House update - almost there!

Hi everyone,
About time for an update! We had another meeting with the architect on December 22nd. Over the last few months he has been working with the engineer, drawing up structural, plumbing and electrical plans, and made a few minor changes to the floor plan to account for these. We also went through the glazing schedule, confirming the sizes and types of all the windows. We also met the builder for the first time!

Latest plan revisions:

There were another 20 or so diagrams/plans with these ones but I won't upload them all - things like updated elevation diagrams, subfloor plan, roof plan, and so on, I won't scan them all :)

Major changes:

- A niche running all the way around the top cornice area of 3 sides of the house - this was because the roof support structure needed a bit more space than what was available (and raising the roof level would have required going back to planning approval) so to keep window sizes the standard height they added a gap. This works out well because it provides a spot where blinds etc. can be installed and then be hidden when they are open - and also allows some niches to be built into some walls.

- Laundry chute location confirmed, after about 4 different options were attempted!

- AV/network cabinet location changed - made it bigger and placed it between the theatre and the garage. Discussions with many AV enthusiasts have let me to believe that cat5/6 will be used for AV in the future (there are adaptors to do so now) so as a result it made sense to consolidate the network and AV runs.

- A step before entering the garage - because the garage is 300mm higher than the rest of the lower floor. I think the step may get in the way a bit, so will raise some alternatives with the architect!
We've also confirmed some floor surfaces:

- Polished concrete in the downstairs hallway (as well as hopefully a polished concrete benchtop)

- Modwood for the decks - modwood is made of sawdust and recycled plastic milk bottles, doesn't require oiling every year or other maintenace, and doesn't splinter!
I've also done some sketchup mockups of some areas to give the architect and builder an idea of what we are after.

(Appliances are Electrolux oven & induction cooktop, F&P fridge, Robinhood rangehood and Asko dishwasher)


And my work of art, the AV unit!

Construction is now expected to start in March 2011.. which means we may not be in there before Christmas 2011 as we had hoped, but that's ok, we'd rather it be done well than done quick!
That'll do for now, electrical and plumbing to come in a future update!

Picking up the pieces ..

A year ago, Australia was the favoured nation to win the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  Two weeks ago, FIFA's technical reports said England, United States and Australia were the three bids best prepared and capable of hosting a World Cup - Russia and Qatar, the most high risk.  Yet, on Friday morning, Russia and Qatar were declared the winners, while England and Australia were eliminated in the first round of their respective votes.  What went wrong?

Frank Lowy stated that before the vote, they were confident that they had at least four votes in the first round - maybe as many as six - meaning at least three ExCo members had looked him in the eye and lied.  Even afterwards, two members have claimed responsibility for the single vote.  Who can he trust?

Clearly politics and backdoor deals played a role, but it isn't as simple as "whoever donates the most money gets my vote".  The voting pattern is a curious one:

The number of votes for Qatar and Japan actually decreased after the first round - leading to suggestions that some blocs of members planned to vote in pre-arranged ways in particular rounds, targetting individual nations one by one.  USA, Qatar and Australia were the only nations seen as the likely hosts of the event (not to say the other bids weren't good - but too soon after their 2002 hosting).  Australia was probably identified as the easiest of the three to "get rid of" early.

Now for a game of "what-if" ... notice how Japan had an extra vote in their first round as opposed to the second?  What if that vote was originally going to Australia but was "switched" to Japan just to knock Australia out, as it was deemed a bigger threat?  Japan and Australia would be locked 2-2 for last place, leading to a "knock-out" voting round between the two.

A poster on the FourFourTwo Australia forums, girtXc, appears to have some sort of insight into the workings of the FIFA ExCo and has posted an interesting theory.  Apparently when the Tahitian delegate Temurii (I'm going to assume people know all about that!) got suspended it had bigger ramifications than just losing a single vote.  His theory about the Japan vote is that powerful Qatari ExCo delegate (and Asian Football Confederation chief) Mohammad bin Hammam arranged it so that Japan wouldn't go out in the first round, therefore keeping Japan ExCo delegate Oguru's honour (very important in Japanese culture) and thus ensuring Japan's vote went to Qatar after Japan was knocked out.  Talk about swings and roundabouts!

The theories about how it happened can go on forever, and we may not ever know... but what happens from here, for Australia?

The sad thing about losing is that, as well as not hosting, it makes the moronic anti-sockah brigade in this nation think they have the right to spout rubbish about the sport.  Rebecca Wilson is already at it.  I won't go into detail about this one, if you read it, you know about it, and if you don't believe it happens I'm not going to change your mind.

The corruption has hit several major nations hard - the USA and England are even discussing a breakaway governing body to FIFA.  Australia could potentially be a part of this but we don't have the standing to do so - any form of dissent and the AFC - headed by bin Hammam (conflict of interest much?) - will send us back off to Oceania.

When will Australia get another chance?  The disappointing thing is that these opportunities come up so rarely for Australia.  FIFA has had vague continental rotation policies in the past - usually the rules are changed before a full cycle occurs.  With the 2018 and 2022 bid process, the rule was that once a continent hosted, they were not able to bid for the next two.  Although it is possible that this will change in the future, if it continues, then 2026 would likely go to the USA, and 2030 to Europe.  That puts Australia's next chance at 2034 at the earliest.

I will be 56 by then.  Frank Lowy would have well and truly fallen off his perch - he will be 104 if he makes it that far!

... and the big question is - will the government at the time support it?  We were lucky in that we had bipartisan support from Kevin Rudd (a "foreign affairs nerd prime minister") and Malcolm Turnbull.  It may not be that easy for a government to fork out $45m again, depending on the political landscape at the time.

But then again, in 1986, Melbourne unsuccessfully bid for the 1992 Olympics.  11 votes out of 85 in the first round.  Brisbane bid for the 1996 Olympics, 12 out of 86.  Imagine if those two experiences were derided as being "wastes of money" - it may have stopped the AOC supporting Sydney's bid for the 2000 Olympics - 30 votes out of 88 in the first round, defeating Beijing 45-43 in the final round, and going on to host the "Best Olympic Games ever!"

In the meantime, lets support the Socceroos at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup - strangely enough, hosted in Qatar in January - after all, it is the game on the pitch that matters!

How many of these books have you read?

This is a meme going around Facebook at the moment and, I haven't written a blog post for a while so this is as good as place as any!

For a geek I've done a rather poor job! (I've tagged both mine and Emma's in the one list!)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (Emma)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (Emma)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (Emma)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - read first 3 (Emma)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (Chuq)
6 The Bible - read parts (Emma)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (Emma)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (Emma)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - read 7 or 8, seen more on stage. (Emma)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (Emma)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (Chuq)
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (Emma)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald  (Chuq)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (Chuq)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (Emma)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (Emma)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (Emma)
34 Emma - Jane Austen (Emma)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Emma)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (Chuq) (Emma)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (Emma)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (Emma)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy.
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (Chuq)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (Emma)
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon (Emma)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (Chuq)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (Emma)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (Emma)
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (Emma)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt.
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (Chuq) (Emma)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton (Emma)
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (Emma)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (Chuq) (Emma)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

9 out of 100.  How embarrassing!  If you don't count the ones which are (a) children's books or (b) books that were a compulsory part of our high school english curriculum, then the ONLY book on the list would be Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

What is even worse is that a significant number of the books on the last are sitting right on our bookshelf and have done so for the past 9 years.  Most of them were inherited, not purchased ... I know many of them are classics which is why they are still there!

Some titles on the list do stand out as standard geek fare.. Nineteen Eighty Four, Animal Farm, Brave New World, Catch 22 and The Time Traveller's Wife are titles that I should really familiarise myself with more!

If I scrape the bottom of the barrel ... I've read the book of Contact, and it WAS better than the movie, does that give me cred?  Also there were episodes of Lost named 'The Little Prince' and 'A Tale Of Two Cities' .. there was a lot of CS Lewis references in the show as well.  That has to count for something?

Emma scored 27 on this list, quite a few of which she attributes to owning the complete works of Jane Austen, the whole Harry Potter series, and all of The Lord of the Rings books!  

Quick plug: If you are a bibliophile - check out - fellow geek John Dalton helps to run this one!

Putting the NBN rollout into perspective

There has been a bit of news about Australia's National Broadband Network in the media recently - specifically the suggestion that Only 262 homes have been signed up to the NBN so far, in the stage 1 sites of Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point.  But are the figures really that bad?
The facts:
  • Three months after activation, the number of homes connected in Tasmania is 262. Including homes that have requested a service but connecting is pending, it is 436.
  • The number of households passed with the fibre is reported between 3000 and 4000 in difference sources. (Note: The source that said "4000" was from The Australian)
So the percentage of homes that have requested a service is between 10.9% and 14.5% (if you only count the ones already connected, it is between 6.5% and 8.7%)
So, how does this compare to other services?
The 2006 census reports that in Tasmania, 28% had broadband. This was in 2006, six years after broadband was first available.
That media release details comparisons between the 2001 figures and 2006, so the same question was asked at the 2001 census – I can't find the figures though. Still looking! I did find this survey from November 2000 (note – not census):
ABS - Survey on internet usage, November 2000 -
Stating that percentage of homes with internet access (note any form of internet – not just broadband) was at 37% in Nov 2000 – the year that ADSL broadband was launched. Only two years earlier the same figure was at 19%, and more specifically, regional areas was 13%.
To reiterate:
  • Dial-up internet had been around since 1994;
  • In November 1998 (four years later), 13% of households in regional Australia had internet access.
  • FTTH over NBN has been around since July 2010;
  • In October 2010 (three months later), 10-14% of households in regional Australia had signed up for a service.
Now I realise it is hard to compare these two exactly, but four years vs three months – thats quite a difference.

(More discussion can be found in this Whirlpool thread!)

A few of my favourite builds

Enough about our house.. here are some of the other fantastic houses (and houses-in-progress) that I've found on the HomeOne forum. It’s a great resource if you are building a new house, with dedicated sections for everything to do with building a house - kitchens, bathrooms, heating and cooling, lighting, AV, automation, security, flooring, landscaping ... it’s not even restricted to the work itself, with sections on investment, real estate, being an owner/builder and so on.

Many people keep a record of their builds in dedicated threads – there are literally dozens going on at any one time in varying stages of completion! I thought I would share some of the more interesting ones ....

People in Glass Houses is Michelle and Tom’s blog. They are nearing the final stages of completion of their architecturally designed 5 bedroom house in a bushland area only 5 mins from Hobart’s CBD! It is a very modern design with lots of angles and designed for a big family similar to ours.

Chris and Kelly’s blog is called Housearama. They have just finished building a passive solar designed 4 bedroom house in Adelaide, roughly based on a Longridge Madison 255. It features a separate home office, a great kitchen (including a professional wok burner – which is a story of its own!) and lots of “cat features”. This is of course on top of all the smart environmental features like retractable shades, opening skylights and power monitoring features.

Building Our 9 Star Home is the blog of Rodney and Elizabeth in Melbourne. Hopefully the key feature of this house is obvious. Their house will actually be ranked as 9.1 star! Not only do they use passive solar design, but they are going to great lengths to ensure the house is as friendly to the environment as possible through choices such as materials used in their kitchen and type of paint used. One of their friends owns the block next door and they will be sharing a backyard for their vege garden and chickens. Construction hasn't started (last I checked), but I think this is going to be a great one to follow!

Big Red's Castle is worth the link just for the amusement of this post!

And last but not least... they don't have a blog that I can link to but sis & bro-in-law Ben and Laura are also planning to build soon, and drawing on Ben's experience in AV & automation they are planning some pretty smart things for their house!  As an example .. they will have an automated watering system for their garden - not that unusual - but the system will take into account time of day, current temperature, recent rainfall, water tank level and weather forecast for the next few days!  So long as it isn't called Skynet ...

Before and after - Part 1

As I alluded to in a previous house update, here are some "before and after" plans of some parts of our new house, compared to similar areas in our current place.

First, the master bedroom (include walk-in robes and ensuite).  Note the orientation of the rooms have been adjusted so north is to the top in both cases.

I think you would be hard pressed to find a new house design that doesn't include a walk-in robe - in face many of the pre-designed plans show a WIR and ensuite which combined are bigger than the bedroom itself!  Our architect has instead, packed a stack of built-in storage into the area, much more than a WIR could offer!  As well as standard built-in robes in both the bedroom itself and the ensuite, there is a walk-through robe on the way in the bedroom (both entrances to the WTR will have cavity slider doors, to allow extra sound insulation and privacy).  All of these items will be full-height - making the most of the 2700mm ceilings!

There is also a lot of "low joinery" - about 500-600mm high - in the form of built in bedside tables (extra-wide - just enough space to fit a king size bed in between), and a daybed area near the window.  The daybed part will probably not be built initially, to allow for a cot and change table to go there - until we don't need them anymore!

Speaking of windows, there will be a full height one from the bedroom facing the deck, and another full height one from the shower facing the internal deck.  Not sure how that shower window is going to work regarding privacy... there are a few details to be worked out!

On to the kitchen/dining/meals areas - yes, these are to scale!

This is one of the areas to gain the most in the new house. One of the hardest parts about doing the map above was working out what room was what in our current house to make the comparison!

At the moment the dining room is the first room that people walk into when they come in the front door, which is not ideal considering how much mess babies and toddlers make when eating! It also means part of the room is basically a hallway which only makes it smaller. The new dining room is twice as big and also features a length of daybed storage (similar to the master bedroom).

It is also physically separated from the kitchen area.. oh the kitchen.  If you thought the new pantry looks about the same as the old kitchen - you'd be pretty much right.  In fact on the plan above it is pretty hard to spot the old pantry, tucked away there.  I've worked out that the volume of our current pantry matches the capacity of the narrow shelf on the eastern wall of the new pantry... and we can't wait!

Also notice the windows - almost all north facing to let in the sun.  In our old house the kitchen/meals area - which became the de facto living area - is south facing.

Two of the other nice things we plan for the new kitchen include an appliance cupboard on the end of the bench, and a child gate, built in to the joinery, at the other end.  When the child gate is open it is fully recessed into the bench so you don't even know it is there.  The meals area will also have a computer desk at one end - which can be used for children to do homework supervised, as a kitchen recipe computer, or as a TV. 

So that covers two of the main areas of the house - more to come!  In other news, our council plans were approved and in even more exciting news, we will most likely have a builder who can start in January 2011 (given we get all the engineering and detailed plans done by then) which would mean a November 2011 finish!  There's a lot to be done before then - I'm currently sorting out my cabling plans (for data/phone/AV/security), which means a lot of researching into home AV distribution as I know next to nothing in that area ... but that's another blog post it itself!

And the winner is ...

Well, it has been quite an eventful few days in the world of Australian politics. Noone really knows who our Prime Minister will be. All the analysts are currently saying that the coalition will have 73 seats to Labor's 72. On first glance this points to a coalition victory, but it isn't as simple as that!

Enter the independents - or more technically correct, the crossbenchers! Three of them - Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott - are sitting independent MPs from regional seats in Queensland and New South Wales who have be re-elected by their elecorate. They are all from rather conservative National Party backgrounds. The other two (Adam Bandt and Andrew Wilkie - noting Wilkie's position is not confirmed) - are from a different background - both representing urban seats in Melbourne and Hobart, and both from the left side of politics - Bandt being the first Greens representative in the lower house, and Wilkie being a former Green member.

On face value it could be assumed the first three would side with the coalition and the last two with Labor. It is never that simple! After all you would assume that the four independents are no longer members of their party for a reason.

Which brings me to what I personally believe was the only policy in the election that clearly separated the two major parties - telecommunications.

While watching the television coverage over the weekend, as expected there were live crosses all over the nation including the three conservative members. And a picture spoke a thousand words - or rather, no picture. The live crosses were just a still image with audio provided by a grainy mobile phone call. Even though the members pointed out that telecommunications was a big issue in their electorate, the fact that the current situation was being clearly demonstrated only served to reinforce this!

The Greens and Wilkie also ran on a platform of supporting the National Broadband Network so it could be assumed they would side with Labor in this regard - not to mention the fact that the Greens and Liberals are polar opposite ends of the spectrum.

The other factor that gives hope to Labor is that the crossbenchers have indicated that they want to support a stable government. It is not in their interest to see the country go to another election in six months time. These comments have made specific reference to the Senate. After the massive surge to the Greens - their number of Senators will increase from 4 to 9 - perhaps the independents think that a conservative government would not work with a left leaning upper house? It is worth mentioning that the Senate does not change until 1 July 2011. Until then, a Labor Government will need the approval of either the Coalition, or all Greens senators, Family First senator Steve Fielding, and Independent Nick Xenaphon, to pass legislation. After the new senate term starts, only the Greens will need to be appeased. Probably not an issue for a Labor government but it could be a challenge should the Liberals form government.

(As I write this, news has come to light that Wilkie may be not as likely to win Denison as first thought. If it did go Labors way, it may put it at 73-73 for the major parties. That's probably a sign that I should stop writing this, every few hours there is something new!)

House update - models and pictures!

It's been a long time since the last update, but plenty has been happening!  I just haven't kept the blog updated... here is a roundup of the last few months ... and this post will be light on text, high on pictures!

At our May architect meeting, we saw a cardboard model of the house!

(Apologies for the camera-phone blurriness!)

Note the garden and (fortunately) driveway will not be tiered like that - those are the limits of using cardboard as a modelling tool!

At our next meeting in June, we received the final plans that will be submitted to council, including some 3D renders:

If you are wondering what sort of material the black sections of the external facade will be, it is something called Alucobond - I hadn't heard of it until the architect mentioned it!  It is a type of aluminium cladding ... I found some images of it used in a residential environment, reproduced from here (click link for bigger images):

It is long lasting and very low maintenance - basically needs cleaning once every ten years - which is great for people who are, lets say, home maintenance challenged such as ourselves!

Our plans are currently with the Hobart City Council and were advertised publicly on July 21st!

The public review period has ended and I don't know if the council received any submissions, but we did receive one call from a neighbour - saying that if we had any clean fill to get rid of, we are more than welcome to have it dumped on his block!

Last of all, I have been playing with Google Sketchup (which incidentally runs quite well under WINE) to design some of the joinery areas.  The most complete one so far is the kitchen:

More work to do on that one - and of course more parts of the house in progress!

Tasmania - "No we can't!"

Last week, the Mercury published an article entitled "Space-age Bass Strait bridge". "Hobart will be linked to Melbourne by a bridge -- in the next 50 to 100 years." it reports. It is part of a proposal by Room 11 (who, in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out are designing our new house!)

Of course, it sounds like a pretty extreme proposal - and didn't the rabid hordes let everyone know! Complaints about "taxpayers are funding these nutters!" (even though they aren't) and "who's gonna pay for this little dream-up?". One particular comment amused me "oil will be of such dwindling availability and so expensive that only the super-rich will be able to afford to drive over it. " Apparently someone thinks we will still be driving petrol-powered cars in 50 years time?

One person seemed to be rather displeased with the suggestion when he suggested that "These people will destroy Tasmania!"

It's quite obvious that no-one looked at the design in context. It is an entrant in the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale - an international architecture exhibition. Entrants have been asked to explore possibilities for urban developments 50-100 years in the future. Room 11's entry, Island Proposition 2100, sets out a design which answers the question - "If, in the face of climate change, Tasmania had to accept 5 million eco-refugees, how would they do it?"

The bridge is only one part of this proposal - obviously the Mercury used it as a headline grabber - but it doesn't give credit to the rest of the design. The basis of it is a high-density, urbanised spine running from Hobart, through the Midlands, Launceston, Devonport, Burnie, through to Smithton - and then continuing on in the form of a bridge to King Island and Victoria. This "spine" would contain infrastructure such as high speed (maglev) rail as well as energy generation (wind and solar) and grey water processing.

All these details are available by simply reading the website - obviously many of the comment writers are incapable of doing so!

Tasmania's small, decentralised population and physical separation are the root of so many issues in the state - here is a concept which would solve all of them in one go! And it is just that, a concept. It is designed to make us open our eyes and look at things from a different perspective. But we could never have that in Tasmania - the "can't do" state - could we?

Human Babies...

Do not have fur, they need contact with other humans for warmth.

They can't walk or run away from predators. They don't camouflage too well either.

They can't find their own food.

They have high energy requirements but a small stomach, so need to feed frequently.

Are rather a lot like Australian marsupial babies, being born helpless and needing to be close to their parents well into toddlerhood. We could learn a lot from koalas and kangaroos.

Australia's World Cup - the bid venues

Last week, Football Federation Australia submitted its "bid book" - a 750 page document on how Australia would host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup. Among the details contained in it were the Australian sporting world had been waiting for.. the 12 proposed venues that would be used.

Here is the list, and my review of each one (I won't replicate all the images which are available on the official website.)

Just a note about capacities - for those who haven't been following the bid closely (as I have)

  • All venues have a "saleable" capacity - which is total capacity minus space for corporates VIPs. Generally stadiums are all seated, so generally "standing" areas are not available. This is why many venues are listed as several thousand below their expected capacity.
  • The minimum "salable" capacity is 40k, for semi finals it is 60k, and for the final, 3rd place match and opening match it is 80k.
  • Many of the venues will be downsized after the World Cup. 

Now, onto the list ...

Stadium Australia – Homebush, NSW - 83,000
In December, the NSW Government suggested that the ground would be modified into a permanent rectangular configuration, and the venue would get a retractable glass roof as a result of our bid! The image supplied doesn't match that, so it seems it may not happen - disappointing, would have been the 'jewel in the crown', but a great venue anyway. I suggest Homebush may be the location of the International Broadcast Centre and so on – facilities may be available from the Olympics?

Sydney Football Stadium – Sydney, NSW - 41,000
A great "minor" venue for Sydney, a shame there isn't much happening to it, but I guess there isn't that much to do.

Blacktown Stadium - Sydney, NSW - 41,000
A new venue in Western Sydney. The design looks nice! It will be built to Good post-WC capacity for Rovers (26k).

MCG – Melbourne, Vic - 88,000
It would be nice to see some sort of redevelopment to improve the venue for rectangular sports in the long term. Fellow blogger Matt Winter's plan would be ideal.

Brisbane Stadium (Lang Park) – Brisbane, Qld - 50,000
It would be nice to see it reach the 60k capacity for a semi-final, maybe they have more work to do!

Perth Stadium (Stadium WA) – Perth, WA - 60,000
A proposal for a multipurpose stadium with adjustable stands has been on the cards in Perth for a few years. It is good to see the general plan making a re-appearance here - common sense won out! Will be a great venue for all sports in WA. Both AFL and cricket can use the venue in it's oval mode, and big Socceroos and Wallabies matches will again return to Perth.

Adelaide Oval – Adelaide, SA - 50,000
Are those stands adjustable, or just majorly redeveloped? I guess since the AFL uses Football Park at the moment, they don't have any existing contract over Adelaide Oval, so if it takes longer before and after the cup to reconfigure the stands that shouldn't be a problem. Adjustable stands would leave Adelaide with a great legacy - without them, Adelaide United is stuck playing in the little 18k Hindmarsh Stadium still.

Gold Coast Stadium (Carrara) – Gold Coast, Qld - 40,000
We'd all prefer Robina Stadium, but it was only built a few years ago to its present side (27k) and I guess with Brisbane an hour away they didn't think it would need upgrading! Carrara won't benefit football but it will be reduced to 27k after the Cup to be a potential venue for AFL, cricket and even a Commonwealth Games bid. 

Newcastle Stadium – Newcastle, NSW - 42,000
Looks very nice - and 34k will be a good post-WC capacity for A-League and NRL use.

Canberra Stadium – Canberra, ACT - 40,000
It's good to see the fearmongering about the ACT not wanting to be involved didn't eventuate. This one will be a new venue built right next to the current Bruce Stadium - which itself will be redeveloped as an oval venue to use instead of Manuka Oval.

Geelong Stadium (Kardinia Park) – Geelong, Vic - 44,000
Looks better than I expected in rectangular mode. Not happy about the way it came about (Andrew Demetriou being pig headed) but it will be good for the city. I found a CGI animation of the "conversion" on Youtube. It will be reduced to 37,000 after the World Cup.

Townsville Stadium (Willows Sports Complex) – Townsville, Qld - 40,000
Is this an upgrade? It looks like a complete rebuild! The roof will be great for the Fury during summer. An appropriate post-WC capacity too (30k) for A-League and NRL use.

So which two will be eliminated?

We need twelve venues for our bid book, but as few as ten of them will be selected by FIFA.  So which will go?

Maybe Gold Coast – which, even though it's an oval, would be disappointing because it's like a second venue to Brisbane and the city is big enough warrant it.
Maybe Townsville – just because of the cities' size and distance.
Maybe Blacktown – because it's a 3rd venue in Sydney.
Maybe Geelong – would be a shame for the same reason as Gold Coast, being Melbourne's #2 venue.

On the talk of "displacing" the AFL and NRL...

Stadium WA and Adelaide Oval are not currently AFL venues. How does this work? The AFL can't claim to have rights to venues which they don't play in?

WA is a tricky one, to build Stadium WA to completion they have to partially demolish Subiaco. But they would have to do this anyway, whether or not we hosted the WC. If Stadium WA was just built as a matter of course, the AFL would have the exact same issue, but they would put up with it, knowing that after it was completed they could sell another 17k seats per game – no compensation expected.

If Gold Coast and Geelong happen to be the two eliminated venues, we could be in the situation where the ONLY venue requiring compensation to be paid to the AFL would be the MCG – and that may only be used for eight matches! This "compensation formula" could be the best deal the federal government ever made :)

Again with Canberra – new venue – no pre-existing rights to the NRL – what will happen to the old Bruce Stadium next door? Keep it rectangular (for NRL/ARU use) until after the WC?

So where is Tasmania?

Why, missing of course!

Tasmania would not require a 40k rectangular stadium after the World Cup - even I can admit that.  But don't forget that six of the venues above are going to be reduced in size by over 10,000 seats after the World Cup!

The Qatar bid - as much as the nation has major logistical issues with size, population, climate and alcohol laws - does have one thing right - the plan for all of their 40k capacity stadiums is to split them in half after the event - resulting in twice as many 20k venues.  The FFA could have proposed a 40k rectangular venue in Hobart which, post-WC, became a 20k in Hobart and a 20k in Launceston.  As a bonus, such a venue would be "legacy" free - no prior tenants to pay compensation to!  

At the moment, the best the state can hope for is a couple of training facilities to be built.  In an email from Michelle O'Byrne in January I was told that the state government has proposed two venues in Tasmania for the bid book.  In the media this week it was also announced that York Park and Bellerive Oval would be "reserved" for AFL use during the World Cup - is that a strong hint that the training venues are new venues?

Time will tell.. only 196 days to go!

Who will save the World Cup from Victoria?

"Footy saved from World Cup threat" read the front page of the Herald Sun yesterday.    What an alarming title – you would think FIFA was going to roll their tanks in and destroy the AFL headquarters from a headline like that.

So what has actually happened?  Let’s pick a few key quotes from the article.

The AFL and the “biggest show on earth” will co-exist if Australia hosts the soccer World Cup in 2018 or 2022.  Co-exist is a funny word.  It implies some sort of equality.  For example, the AFL and soccer don't "co-exist" at the moment - for the best part, the AFL totally dominates it in the media.  Does the AFL expect that this will happen during a World Cup hosted in Australia?  It won't even be 50-50 - the World Cup will, dominate.  The AFL's season continuing during the World Cup is not about whether it is legally allowed to - it is whether the AFL wishes to commit financial suicide by attempting to do so.

Skilled Stadium [Kardinia Park in Geelong], Subiaco Oval, Gold Coast Stadium and Adelaide Oval would also be off limits to the AFL during the Cup.  Oh yes, the FFA/Federal Government is taking these venues, modernising them, upgrading their capacity, using them for a couple of months – and then handing the nice shiny new venues back to the AFL to play on year after year.  Not to mention the MCG and Homebush.  Are we supposed to think the AFL is doing it tough?

The government guarantee appears to contravene a FIFA regulation that a major sport can’t run in the host nation during a World Cup.  Actually, the truth is a little simpler than that – the AFL is not a major sport.  The FIFA regulation relates to events such as Wimbledon, or the Ashes series.  Even Major League Baseball continued in the United States in 1994, and MLB is much bigger than AFL.

[Demetriou said] "We’ve always said we would be providing the MCG and Skilled Stadium [Kardinia Park]"  How nice of him to be able to speak for the Victorian State Government and the City of Greater Geelong.  Did the AFL "provide" the MCG for the Commonwealth Games, or was it simply that it isn’t theirs to provide?  

The AFL has also been concerned FIFA would require the MCG for longer, before and after the tournament.  This refers to a proposal to "rectangularise" the MCG temporarily, requiring the ground for longer for conversion, which was announced publicly in December last year.  However, this proposal had already been eliminated by the bid taskforce privately before this time and also again publicly about 6 hours after the news story was published (in the Herald Sun, no surprises there).  For some reason, despite the fact that it is not going to happen, it gets brought up time and time again by the AFL and the Herald Sun, alongside the equally unlikely threat of "cancelling a season and sending clubs broke".

In fine form as usual, the Herald Sun has followed up with another article today, "League compo for cup games".  This is all about the compensation they will receive for ... hang on - what are they being compensated for?  They apparently aren't going to stop their season or reduce the number of games.  They are mathematically perfectly capable of honouring their existing stadium contracts even with some of them being unavailable, so no issues there.  They are going to have to play some games in reduced capacity venues for 10 weeks, certainly - but this is negated by the fact that they are also going to play in increased capacity stadiums for years to come - surely hundreds of millions of dollars worth of government funded infrastructure is enough?  In fact, the United States bid - our closest competitor for the 2022 World Cup - is already taking advantage of the ammo being provided to them to promote their own bid - how much compensation is the AFL going to pay the federal government if it is their antics which causes our bid to fail?

Melbourne's self proclaimed title of the "sports capital of the world" is now a joke - nowhere else would you see the largest newspaper in such a city against the World Cup.

I really feel sorry for the hundreds of thousands of Victorians who support both codes, as well as the hundreds of thousands who have no specific interest in soccer but want the World Cup to come here.  Unfortunately to the rest of the country and the rest of world, their local media is portraying the state as extremely insular and closed minded.

... and to think that if the World Cup comes here, the Herald Sun would be the first to complain when Melbourne only hosted six matches and Sydney hosts twenty!  But why shouldn't Sydney get more?  Not only are they upgrading their largest venue - Stadium Australia - by adding 5000 seats and installing a retractable glass roof, they are also offering their secondary stadium (Sydney Football Stadium) as well as offering to build a new 40,000 capacity venue in Western Sydney!  The New South Wales Government and the people of Sydney obviously want to host World Cup matches, not treat it like some sort of invading threat. 

The AFL can't really be blamed for their actions - their job is to look after their sport - but the Herald Sun is supposed to be a media outlet, not the AFL's PR department.

If I were an international football fan planning the best location to base myself during a World Cup in Australia, I'd be looking at the city with three venues (and within commuting distance to Canberra and Newcastle).  Melbourne wouldn't even be on the radar.  Is the Victorian Government looking after the interests of the state, or the interests of the AFL?

Popular Posts