Lathlain Park ‘unlikely’ to host WAFL GF: Clark
Perth Demons General Manager Russell Clark says Lathlain Park is unlikely to host the WAFL Grand Final in 2020, as doubts remain over the viability and cost of using premier venue Optus Stadium for this year’s decider.
Speaking on WAFL World on Monday night, Clark said while Grand Final venue discussions hadn’t been at the forefront of mind leading in to the season, but that Lathlain’s capacity of 10,000 spectators would likely rule it out of the race to host the premier WAFL event of the season.
“I think if you are going to have a WAFL ground (host the Grand Final) I don’t think we’d have the capacity enough for a WAFL Grand Final,” he said.
“We’ve certainly got the best surface and lighting, but we’re restricted at this point, I don’t think we would fit more than 10,000 in there. I think we would have to look at other ovals, if not Optus.”
Optus Stadium has become the home of the WAFL Grand Final for all three grades since 2018, with Subiaco Oval now demolished. With the AFL season set to linger in to October and with no certainty around the ground’s availability, the WAFC is set to explore other venues for this year’s Grand Final, set down for October 4th.
Lathlain Park has undergone redevelopment in recent seasons to become a first-class sporting precinct, now home of the West Coast Eagles.
Further works are expected at the venue, with the current Lathlain Park grandstand set to be demolished and upgraded at the end of this year having been granted state and federal government funding.
Former West Perth President Brett Raponi believed the Grand Final venue should be north of the river.
“WAFL Grand Final, don’t write off Arena Joondalup. That surface is fantastic, the facilities are brilliant,” he said.
“I know the city of Joondalup are very keen to bring the WAFL Grand Final to Joondalup.”
The facility is owned and run by Venues West, as is Optus Stadium.
Perth opened their pre-season campaign with a nine point over West Perth on Saturday and will face Swan Districts in their final hit out this coming weekend.
The 51 year old said the club had moved on from the disappointment of losing Cody Leggett, who has signed with rival club East Fremantle.
“At the end of the day an administrative error was made, we’ll deal with it and we move on,” Clark said.
“I think there’s far bigger stories and things in football. I had a look at every club’s supplementary list today and I think there is quite a few blokes who are actually free agents on the list.
“At the end of the day it is what it is, Cody’s playing football and we’re going to focus on what we need to do and that’s try and get in to finals and then if we can get there try and be a real contender.”
Clark confirmed that Michael Bennell would not return to the Demons for season 2020.
"We’ve got certain behaviours that we expect from all our players and at the moment Michael isn’t with us,” he said.
“He was down doing some training at Carlisle (in the amateurs) at one point there, but at this point with the season being so short we don’t expect to see Michael in the red and black this year.”
Clark said that young midfielder Corey Byrne was currently battling a medical condition and was seeking medical advice, with the club hopeful of a return early in the campaign.
IMAGE: Austadiums website.