Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Stadium! Or Is That A Dirty Word?

the old looks in at the new ... Logan Park and trees as seen from inside the stadium ...

I like our new stadium. There, I said it.

For those who have no idea of the import of those words 'I like our Stadium' let me try to explain. For those who care ... (actually I can't really believe I do myself, not being a sportaholic per se. My only excuse is that I come from a family of them and I'm married to an ex-basketball player and now, golf-addict -er).

Dunedin had a stadium (although it wasn't called a stadium, it was called Carisbrook - aka The Brook and House of Pain - and designated as a rugby ground rather than a stadium). The House of Pain, had character and even (until they added a huge roof) had what was dubbed a 'Scotsman's Stand' situated by the railway line, where people could look down on the ground and watch the game for free. Carisbrook had history and huge sentimental value, but time and use was having its effects and after one hundred and thirty years it was time for either a major overhaul, or for something new.

... we went to watch a game of rugby some smarty-pants described as 'the game that doesn't matter' - but we'll leave that for now. It was between the South Island and North Island - a historic event I take it ... South Island won (yay!) My sister, when I told her that 'we' the South Island had won, she (who lives in the North Island) asked - "Who were they playing?" Needless to say, she's definitely not a sports fan!

Dunedin people were divided about the stadium; if anything though, more people in Dunedin (those who were going to have to foot the bill for this new stadium in their rates bill) were AGAINST a three-hundred-million-dollar stadium. After all, it was mainly going to be used for rugby and not so much for rock concerts and definitely not for literary events.

... at half time the little guys had a go - called Ripper Rugby, because instead of tackling the opposition, they rip a velcro strip off the side of their uniform ... More often than not, the kids headed off in the wrong direction when going for a try ... too cute ...

Lots of protests were lodged against this stadium and protest marches were held. Dunedin has a large creative / cultural sector and I cannot think of any of my writing friends who were for the stadium. A fence-sitter of old, I usually held my own counsel on the matter. Even my daughter, who is an avid rugby fan, was against it. I tended to wonder why they didn't just overhaul The Brook, but was told this was an unviable option - one reason being that it was situated in a bad place as it was hard to get to and there was always problems with parking.

Dunedin's City Council ended up giving the stadium the green light and despite weighty opposition, our State-of-the-Art stadium was built. Huge frustration was (is) felt by a large number of Dunedin's population. They feel that they have had no say, no power, no influence and what's worse, through the rate's bill, are forced to pay for something they don't want and which is of no benefit to them.

It also seemed to prove yet again that Rugby Heads always get what they want in this country. You have to live in New Zealand to realise just how much power this game has over the whole country and how unfair it seems to those of us (the minority) who don't actually see rugby as that important. If there was a fairer dispersal of public funding, it wouldn't be so frustrating. However, the Arts don't get a look-in when up against RUGBY (any sarcasm eke-ing through all those caps, intended).

So far, we have attended four or five rugby games at the stadium (didn't make it to Elton John's concert - I heard it was cold and that the sound system had problems, so maybe, sadly, it is not a stadium well set up for concerts anyway). I have enjoyed the fact that it is has a roof and a great atmosphere. The food and drinks are expensive though, so we don't buy anything there.

We figure we are paying for the stadium (which went way over its budget and has put the council into debt - as well as the local rugby club) so we intend making use of what we are paying for.

As I said at the start of this - I actually like our stadium, nicknamed by some because of its shape as The Lunchbox. Others think it should be called The Albatross (as in an albatross around our necks, I guess? maybe?) Or, The White Elephant. Personally, I think it looks like a Dish Rack, but reckon it should be nicknamed The House of Panes.

Anyway, as I said  at the beginning of this (as it's turned out) long explanation, the new stadium, whatever you want to call it, doesn't stick in my craw like it does for some of my friends. I can appreciate its engineering and I feel a sense of pride that touring rugby teams don't have to put up with antiquated (for all their historical and sentimental value) amenities.Plus, who can argue against the fact that it's better spectators don't get soaked in the rain, or suffer from exposure to bitter wind-chill?

However, any qualms I do have will completely disappear if the Dunedin City Council gets behind a mammoth Arts Festival (no Hire Fee) featuring VS Naipaul, Fleur Adcock, Jack Vance and Diane Wakoski. Plus a 'Real McKenzies'  rock concert, with Dunedin's alternative group, Bradley Initiative, as the opening act.

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Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...