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A game changer: an exclusive first-look inside Western Sydney Stadium

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Is there such a thing as love at first sight? And what if that love was for a stadium, even for one that isnt yet completed?

Your humble columnist was given an exclusive look on Thursday at the new Western Sydney Stadium and, well, its love, baby. L.O.V.E.

World class: The new Western Sydney Stadium will have fans closer to the action than anywhere in the country.

Photo: Nick Moir

The first thing you notice when you are introduced to the artist formerly known as Parramatta Stadium is how steep the seating is.

The playing field is sunk seven metres below ground level, and rising out of that is 30,000 seats at a 34-degree angle. That is the steepest in the world and more than Brisbanes Suncorp Stadium, which is considered the best rectangular stadium in the country despite it being most often filled with Queenslanders.

If youve been to Levis Stadium, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, or even La Bombonera, the home of Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires, youll understand how close supporters feel to the pitch and players. This stadium already has a similar feel, even if it is a construction site.

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Theres an LED big screen in one corner and a wide, open concourse that wraps around the entire stadium, allowing fans to buy a beer and some hot chips and then turn around and look directly below at the footy.

It is, in every sense, a modern-day coliseum. Given the way Parramatta are playing this season, they deserve to be thrown to the lions.

Of course, you would never say this in front of the 300 or so workers who have the $300 million project humming along and on track to be completed by late April.

“Most of them are sports fanatics — they take pride in what they are building,” Lend Lease construction manager Richard Yarad says. “There are a lot of Parramatta and Wanderers fans working on-site. They are the ones who will be using this stadium when its finished.”

Park all the politics and cranky letters to the editor about the NSW governments controversial stadium strategy to one side for a moment. This stadium, when completed, will show Sydneysiders what life will be like with world-class sporting facilities. They, too, will learn to love going to sport again.

NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres hasnt been feeling much love as he presses ahead with the plan to rebuild Allianz Stadium and refurbish ANZ Stadium.

He hopes, though, the Western Sydney Stadium will be a “game changer”.

“Apart from the Olympic Stadium, we havent had a new stadium in Sydney since the 1980s,” Ayres said. “Every city has had one or more built, but we havent since Allianz in 1988 and Parramatta in 1986. Its time Sydney sports fans had the game-day experience they deserve and that other cities are having.”

Other features of the stadium include state-of-the-art technology under the playing surface that works like a vacuum cleaner, sucking moisture out if there has been too much rain; a standing area for the Red and Black Bloc; vast female-friendly amenities, which means no more lines snaking out into the carpark; and plenty of space around the stadium, allowing for big crowds and activation areas.

So, in summary, if you want to know what love is, this stadium can show you.

From Vegas to the Red Centre

Within an hour of getting bashed up by Terence Crawford, Brisbane boxer Jeff Horn and his promoter, Dean Lonergan, were dismissing talk about a fight with an ageing Anthony Mundine.

We aint buying it.

Were told that plans are well underway for a possible fight in November, and while Suncorp Stadium — where Horn famously beat Manny Pacquiao a year ago — is favoured as the venue we are hearing Mundine could push for a bout in Uluru.

It is something the 43-year-old has always wanted.

Missing the pitch on Greenberg

At absolutely no stage has NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg been a “frontrunner” for the Cricket Australia job about to be vacated by James Sutherland — as much as some in rugby league are agitating for him to move on.

Reports suggesting that Greenberg is in line for the role are off the mark. As anyone in cricket seems to know, it is likely to go to someone with a cricket background. Sutherlands second-in-command, Kevin Roberts, is considered the real “frontrunner”.

Dont worry: there are some in rugby league who certainly want Greenberg to clean out his office.

The push is on, as expected, for Racing NSW chief executive and new ARL Commission board member Peter VLandys to take over at some stage.

The club chairmen and chief executives will come together on Friday at League Central and were told some of the games heaviest hitters will be putting on the knuckle-dusters, ready to rip and tear over all manner of issues … starting with the diabolical refereeing thats plaguing the game.

A pint of codswallop

Speaking of bullshit reports, a rival columnist took a swipe last Sunday at Fairfax Media for publishing an image of NSW star James Roberts having a quiet post-match beer in the victorious Blues dressing-room alongside Latrell Mitchell after Origin I.

The image in question ran in this column.

It was claimed we ignored a request from NSW team management to not run the picture because of Roberts messy history with alcohol.

It was a cheap shot — and it was wrong.

Nobody at Fairfax Media was asked to not run the image. We werent given any directive. Roberts also ran the same pic on his own Instagram account.

We can only assume the Blues were more concerned about how the aforementioned rival publication might run the image, not Fairfax.

'Photo' finish in the Stradbroke.

Photo: Supplied

THE QUOTE

“Santa Ana Lane claims Stradbroke Handicap ahead of Super Cash and Photo For Third.”

— So said the tagline under the National Nine News report on last Saturdays headline race at Doomben. Bloody Photo For Third. God I hate that horse.

THUMBS UP

Reporters can be the whingiest people in the world, especially in the pressure cooker of covering an Olympic Games, but theres one person who can soothe the savage reporter beast: AOC media manager Julie Dunstan, who this week racked up 25 years in the job. A raised glass of Sochis finest vodka to her.

THUMBS DOWN

Well done to Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts for calling out a Perth-based fan for branding him a “monkey” on his Instagram account. Just wait a minute and Im sure someone will brand Betts a snowflake, or defend the gutless keyboard warriors right to freedom of speech, to make up for the fact he/she is a bigot.

IT'S A BIG WEEKEND FOR …

The Socceroos, who start their walk through the shadow of the valley of death that is the FIFA World Cup, taking on France at Kazan Stadium. Here we go: a month of zero sleep.

IT'S A EVEN BIGGER WEEKEND FOR …

The Wallabies. Rugbys back, baby! Well, sort of. Kinda. Their win over Ireland in Brisvegas was fun to watch. They can wrap up the series with victory in Melbourne on Saturday.

Andrew Webster

Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

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