Western Sydney Wanderers request safe standing for RBB in new stadium submission

Loud and active: The Wanderers want to have standing room only for the RBB. Photo: Jonathan CarrollWestern Sydney Wanderers are pushing to make their new home in Parramatta the first stadium in Australia to have a dedicated standing end for active supporters, but must first reach an agreement with NRL club Parramatta Eels.

By 2019, the new 30,000 capacity stadium in Parramatta could become the envy of all A-League clubs by including two permanent standing bays for the Wanderers’ vocal supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc.

In their submission for the new stadium, the Wanderers requested up to 1000 safe standing seats to be installed to accommodate their passionate fans in a major step in Australian venues catering for football’s needs.

Both major tenants entered their requests for features as plans enter the consultative stage of the design process before construction is due to begin following the end of the NRL home and away season in September.

“Our goal is to be playing out of a world-class football stadium in 2019,” Wanderers chief executive John Tsatsimas said.

“We have put forward a comprehensive submission and we are engaged in regular consultation on this project to ensure that our members and fans get a venue that we hope will exceed their expectations.”

Under the Wanderers proposal, removable seats, or those that can be securely stored inside metal frames, would be installed in the new northern end of the stadium, allowing active fans to be more mobile and active in the stands.

The concept follows practices popular in Argentina, continental Europe and particularly in Germany, where rails give football fans the freedom to support in a more traditional style while preventing crushing or stampedes.

The most likely form of safe standing seating will be the German-style “rail seating” that allows seats to be bolted away for standing areas and easily installed for seating.

The Wanderers trialled these seats sporadically through the northern end at Pirtek Stadium. The club is amid discussions with Parramatta Eels to allay concerns that such a format could obstruct sight for viewers sitting down for rugby league games.

“As part of our submission, a proposed safe standing area in the north end has been included. With the design and architectural development of stadiums around the world we believe this can be achieved and look forward to seeing it become a part of the new design and a first in Australia,” Tsatsimas said.

“Flexibility is key to this occurring and we hope the consultation and design will accommodate the needs a multi-use venue requires for one of its key tenants.”

Parramatta Eels are very supportive of the concept but will not accept any seating plan that would restrict the view of patrons who prefer to sit down.

Both ends behind the goals of the current Pirtek Stadium are ticketed as family ends by the Eels, whose initial plans are likely to retain the same designated areas in the new stadium.

“Our focus is ensuring that our members and fans receive the best possible game day experience in Australia through the $100 million redevelopment of the Parramatta Leagues club precinct and the new state of the art facilities at Parramatta Stadium,” Eels chief executive John Boulous said.

“Discussions regarding design and seating plans are at an early stage and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure it reflects the multi-purpose intent of the facility.”

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