AFL games in Wagga? It's never going to happen

IT WOULD be simple to say Wagga City Council found the light.

Rather than spend an ungodly $3.5 million installing 1500 lux lighting at the redeveloped Robertson Oval, council went for the cheaper 500 lux alternative.

In the end the saving was only $700K, but I suppose every little but helps.

When all is said and done, however, the quality of the lighting at Robertson Oval is about as relevant as some of the comments on the subject on the The Daily Advertiser website.

Honestly, some people say they live in Wagga, but, considering their out-there opinions, they could just as easily come from Mars.

How on earth some of them come to their mindless conclusions is almost beyond belief.

Either they have absolutely no idea on how the sporting world operates or they blindly believe every word that is uttered by someone in an Armani suit.

The idea, that, given the right type of lighting, the AFL or Cricket Australia would actually play major games/matches at Robertson Oval should be seriously hard to swallow.

I certainly take it with an absolute grain of salt, but others seem to lap it up.

Truth is, all the talk about the AFL programming “premiership games” at Robertson Oval is just wasted waffle.

It is exactly like the sort of rhetoric that is trotted out when a government is trying to get people on side before an election.

Candidates say anything and everything to get a vote.

“We won’t lift taxes”, “We’ll cut all taxes”, “We’ll dump Tony Abbott”, “We’ll sack Julia Gillard”, “We’ll give everyone a new house” – you know the drill.

Same goes for the Robertson Oval project.

The people seemingly speaking on behalf of the AFL promised clubs would deliver premiership games to Wagga if Robertson Oval was brought up to Premier Sporting Venue standard.

This was pork-bellying at its very best, or, worst.

Think about it – think hard about it.

Why would an AFL club – even a bottom feeder like GWS – want to come to Wagga in the start, middle or end of the season?

Financially it would be a absolute disaster, but, I suppose, money is never, ever an object with the AFL.

Sure, it would be a nice PR exercise – and GWS could do with as much positive coverage as possible.

Still, there are literally hundreds of cities and towns across Australia that have first-rate football grounds – and they have never had an AFL game.

Look closely at Victoria and try to count the number of centres outside Melbourne and Geelong that have hosted an AFL game.

Not many, if any.

So what makes Wagga so special?

Good question. Nothing.

The whole concept of the AFL delivering premiership games to Robertson Oval smacked of total desperation on the part of some people.

They were so intent on getting Wagga City Council to commit to the Robertson Oval, they would say just about anything.

The suggestion – this comes from the Advertiser website – that “Dinosaurs that belong in a (——) museum” are holding Wagga back is ridiculous.

“This city is going backwards at a rate of knots”, was another comment from the source.

Well, excuse me for setting you straight.

The redevelopment of Robertson Oval is important for Wagga, but not for the whimsical reason of getting AFL premiership games or a nobody-really-cares Sheffield Shield match in the city.

This won’t happen – it was never going to happen.

The best Wagga can expect is to land a pre-season AFL game – possibly every three or four years if the city is lucky and plays its cards right.

There is just no way the AFL will be falling over to do Wagga any favours or give the city preferential treatment.

Why should it?

For years and years, the AFL (and NRL) has treated Wagga like a backwater.

Building a half-decent footy ground will not miraculously change things.

The best for which Wagga can hope is to be in the queue for a pre-season game – exactly like Albury, Narrandera, Ballarat, Bendigo and Hay.

Sometime down the track the AFL will probably make the big decision to hand Ballarat or Bendigo a premiership

game.

There are no guarantees, but the odds, as rough as they are, seem to favour it.

The prospect of this ever happening in Wagga is as minuscule as Black Caviar running in the Town Plate in May.

Why bother with Wagga when Ascot beckons?

The same theory applies to AFL games in the city.

More comments from the Advertiser website seem appropriate.

“Maybe if they threw enough money at it we could have the grand final. Better get Jubilee Park ready for the Olympics. How about Kyeamba Smith Hall for the Big Day Out”.

Makes a lot of sense.

Saving $700,000 on lighting, and not building a grandstand to cater for 25,000 people, was the smartest thing council did since this long-winded and boring saga started.

At best, Wagga needs a ground capable of holding 10,000 – and lighting that will make ensure the crowd can from one side of the field to the other.

Anything more is a waste of time and money.

The thought that building a monstrous edifice, with lights that can be seen from space, will influence the AFL, cricket Australia or any other important sporting body to came to Wagga is stupid in the extreme.

“There will never be an AFL home and away game in Wagga, 1500 lux or not,” says an Advertiser website observer.

I couldn’t have put it any better.

***

THE bigwigs down at AFL House in Wagga’s main street must be wringing their hands with anguish and envy this week.

Instead of having some AFL celebrity – Tom Harley definitely springs to mind – to parade around the city, the AFL House crowd are playing third-fiddle to the NRL.

The appearance of the Bulldogs players at schools in Wagga yesterday, today and tomorrow is giving rugby league a free-kick over Australian football.

Same goes for the Raiders players hitting the towns up in the hills at the end of the week.

It’s enough to make even the most cynical critic think the NRL actually cares about the Riverina.

This could be true, but history would suggest otherwise.

Anyway, it makes for a nice change.

All we need now is for Football Federation Australia to announce it is sending the Socceroos squad to Wagga for a “friendly” at Gissing Oval and AFL House will explode.

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