AFL legend Kevin Sheedy says WA missed out on a multimillion payback for money spent on the new Perth Stadium by not demanding a State of Origin return as a blockbuster venue opener.
Sheedy, a master of football innovation, said a match between WA and Victoria could have commanded $100 a seat at the $1.6 billion stadium and a likely sell-out would have fetched $6 million in ticket sales alone. The first official match will be a one-day cricket match between Australia and England on January 28.
State of Origin matches, which started at Subiaco Oval in 1977, have not been played since 1999. Sheedy said it was “foolish” to argue against a return.
“It would be sold out in half a day, so there’s $6 million that’s walked out the door … I’d do it tomorrow,” Sheedy, who was in Perth yesterday to launch his new book celebrating his 50 years at football’s elite level, said. “We’ve got to think smarter. I think there are foolish, heads in the sand people who get locked in on only what they honestly think is the only way.
“It’s frustrating. If you paid the players $1 million, you think they’d play. Of course, they would.”
Sheedy described WA football’s impending move to Burswood as “a moment in time” similar to the way Melbourne’s VFL clubs moved from suburban grounds to the MCG and Etihad Stadium.
He urged the AFL to investigate bringing back some of the game’s traditional nuances to help make it great again.
It would include further capping rotations, not demanding players come off after kicking a goal, make flooding areas of the ground illegal and bringing back long kicks and high marks.
Sheedy’s book, which marks his 50 years in football since he played his first game for Richmond in 1967, is filled with images from his own archive.
“Over 50 years I’ve collected about 80,000 photos … I thought it was about time I released some of them,” he said.
“I’ve had some wonderful opportunities to take some great photos around Australia and around the world.”
Sheedy said Australia’s clash with Ireland in the AFL’s international rules match at Subiaco Oval on Saturday would be a “special” finish for WA’s traditional home of football.