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!