Perth punters reaping rewards of State Government strategy

Perth punters reaping rewards of State Government strategy
Perth punters reaping rewards of State Government strategy

It is a glorious time to be a Perth sports fan – but unlike years prior, the mood of the sporting public at large in WA has not been solely dictated by the form of local teams.

For years, the Eastern States have joked WA stands for ‘wait awhile’; when it comes to attracting international sporting spectacles, no longer is that the case.

The State Government and Tourism WA’s focus on luring big-ticket events to WA has cemented the city’s status as one of Australia’s top sporting hubs, luring in travelers from interstate and abroad while simultaneously giving locals bang for their buck.

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The State Government has embraced the fact Perth, like most Australian cities, is a sports town.

Camera IconAustralian fans celebrate the win during the Olympic qualifier between Philippines and the Matildas at Optus Stadium. Credit: James Worsfold/Getty Images

Maybe it is the sense of isolation which breeds passion, but down the years the Eagles, Dockers, Wildcats, Scorchers, the Glory and the Force have all enjoyed the backing of fervent home crowds.

There is a joke that Melbourners would turn out en masse to watch paint dry if it was billed as a sporting spectacle, such is their love of live sport, but Perth is showing the city’s passion for sports is in a similar tier.

Perth may not boast a recurring events calendar like Melbourne, which has the Boxing Day Test, Australian Open, AFL Grand Final or Australian Grand Prix – but it does have a passionate sporting scene which is buying into the increased influx of touring teams and events.

More than 52,000 fans packed into Optus Stadium on Saturday – the highest-ever crowd for a WWE Elimination Chamber match – to watch Logan Paul get thrown through a pod and Australian Rhea Ripley further entrench herself as women’s wrestling’s top dog.

Alex de Minaur of Australia, left, shakes hands at the net after his win over Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the United Cup tennis tournament in Perth, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Trevor Collens)
Camera IconAlex de Minaur and Novak Djokovic during the United Cup in Perth. Credit: Trevor Collens/AP

It was not just the main event, but the lead-up and festivities which will stay with fans just as long, the out-of-ring engagement and connections with the community ensuring a significant groundswell.

The wrestling is just the latest in a long line of sporting events the government has stumped up top dollar to bring.

In October, the Matildas played three sold-out games in Perth – including one match which had to be moved to Optus Stadium – off the back of their successful Women’s World Cup campaign, after the government secured hosting rights to their three Olympic qualifiers.

Perth hosted five Women’s World Cup games at a renovated HBF Park (Perth Rectangular Stadium, we hardly knew ye) in July, after English Premier League giants Tottenham and West Ham had also headed west at the State’s behest, while 2023 also saw the Octagon descend upon RAC Arena as the UFC came to town.

EPL giants Manchester United (their second visit in four years), Aston Villa, Leeds and Crystal Palace visited for a pair of exhibition games at Optus Stadium the year before.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: David Moyes manager of West Ham acknoladges the fans after the win during the pre-season friendly match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United at Optus Stadium on July 18, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)
Camera IconWest Ham manager David Moyes at Optus Stadium in July. Credit: James Worsfold/Getty Images

Chelsea visited Perth in 2018 to take on the Glory, and Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti has gone on the record about her dream of drawing an Italian Serie A giant to Perth.

Go back to 2019, and the government stumped up top dollar to entice Roger Federer and Serena Williams – arguably the two greatest tennis players of not just their generation, but all-time – to Perth for the Hopman Cup.

While the Hopman Cup has sadly departed these shores, it’s successor the United Cup just enjoyed a successful stint in Perth, with Novak Djokovic, Iga Swiatek and Alex De Minaur headlining the line-up.

Big crowds have followed each and every sporting event which has stopped off in Perth – even the football friendlies where nothing is at stake have drawn good attendances, the lowest of which was a ‘paltry’ 33,000 to watch Palace take on Leeds last year.

As long as Perth punters keep filing the stands and interstate fans continue to make the trip over, you can bet the State Government will be eyeing up the next big ticket item to bring to WA.


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