SINCE I first came to Canberra in the late 1980s and for much of the 25 years since, any proposal to put light towers at Manuka Oval was met with stiff opposition with neighbouring residents concerned about a range of legitimate issues.
There was concern about light spillage, the ambiance, the parking, drunken spectators and noise. There was a feeling that it would never happen because of these very real concerns.
It’s early days, but it would appear many of these concerns have not materialised. Sure, the six-light towers are not necessarily aesthetically appealing, looking something like giant tennis rackets; and parking will always be an issue, but there has been little in the way of uproar so far. There have been no reports of unruly behaviour from drunken spectators leaving the ground. No, the main complaint was the long wait in the line at beer stalls, concessions and toilets.
The light towers are significant for Canberra sport. To a certain extent it shows we mean business, but until we get the service to customers running smoothly, including good catering and plenty of toilets, our bid to attract major cricket and more AFL to the ACT will struggle. It’s all very well to secure major events, but it means little unless you look after the people who pay good money to attend.
Cavalry’s charge to the top
A FEW years ago at the Eastlake Football Club a public meeting was staged to gauge public interest in securing a licence for the proposed Australian Major League baseball competition.
There was genuine enthusiasm, but I must admit while chairing that meeting, I had doubts that it would get off the ground. It was touch and go with the dominant belief being that if Canberra was to get a licence the baseball community needed to be more proactive. They needed to raise sponsorship and secure pledges of support.
The rallying that was done by the likes of Theo Vassalakis has been rewarded with the Canberra Cavalry finishing on top of the ladder after the regular season and hosting the finals series. Well done to all who supported this next level of baseball competition for Canberra.
Hockey gets the heave-ho
THE chance of securing a major international hockey tournament as part of Canberra’s Centenary celebrations appears to be remote.
Several proposals have been forthcoming involving the Australian men’s and women’s teams, but nothing has materialised. Part of the problem has been lack of television coverage for the proposed competitions.
It is disappointing given hockey’s rich history in Canberra; Katrina and Lisa Powell with their dual Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2000 make hockey one of Canberra’s most successful Olympic sports outside the AIS.
Either way, 2013 is gearing up to be a big year in sport for our Territory.