10 March 2023

Are cheaper chips the key to luring us out of our lounge rooms?

| Ross Solly
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three people eating food

ACT Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson, Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner and Sport Minister Yvette Berry trying out the food offerings in ‘The Huddle’ at GIO Stadium. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

There are certain things we seem happy to put up with, even though we know we are being ripped off for a service and a product that would usually be considered of much lesser value.

I’m talking a pie or fish and chips and a drink at the footy, popcorn and beverage at the movies, an official program and a snack at the theatre. We would never in the real world pay the sorts of exorbitant prices we seem happy to stump up at these “special” events, but we just accept that this is the price we pay to enjoy the experience.

Organised people, of whom I am not one, pack themselves a thermos and a sandwich before they go to the footy, and then hope they don’t get pinged by over-officious security guards who seem to take great pleasure in confiscating homemade salads.

I have a good friend who often sneaks their own drink and snacks into the movies. I don’t know anyone who tries to sneak their own stuff into the theatre, where the intimate surroundings make it a bit more obvious when you whip a falafel out of your manbag.

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The ACT Government has decided enough is enough when it comes to getting ripped off at the footy, announcing the cost of food and drink at Brumbies’ and Raiders’ matches at Bruce Stadium will drop by a dollar. The hope is this will entice families especially to come back to the stands to cheer on Canberra’s sport teams.

There are many reasons, of course, why people have stopped going to watch the footy. Ticket prices are one, parking can be a hassle, the cold weather has never helped, and the fact you can comfortably watch games from the warmth of your own lounge room all conspire together to draw people away from the turnstiles.

For a family, the cost of food and drink is definitely an issue. Keeping a family of four adequately fed and hydrated is not going to leave you much change out of $80. Fair chance the food of choice is not going to be that good for you, the portion will be small, and it may not taste that great either.

So would the possibility of saving a few bucks on a bucket of chips and a drink be more likely to entice us to leave our armchair, put on the puffy jacket, and head out to Bruce? Maybe, but at the very least it is righting a wrong which has been a blight on our event “experience” for far too long.

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We might have simply smiled and accepted it in the past, but the times they are a changing, money’s too tight to mention, and we’re not going to take it, any more…

Of course both the Raiders and the Brumbies, and most of their fans, would rather the government announce a brand new stadium. But that’s not likely to happen for a long time yet, so let’s hope cheaper chips do the trick.

And then let’s also hope that this new era of cost-cutting extends to the movies and the theatre.

Then we really might see Canberra come to life again.

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Guy Blackburn1:19 pm 14 Mar 23

The offering on Saturday night at the brumbies was shameful. 45 minute wait to park. Only half the facilities open and then only one cash register working leading to 30 minute wait for food and drink. It is no wonder nobody wants to go when treated like second class citizens. There is a need for a fundamental redevelopment and new stadium if Canberra is to be competitive in sports culture. Right now it looks like Canberras are a captive audience. It doesn’t bode well for the future.

If the local government can’t fix potholes, they certainly can’t afford to build a new stadium especially when the current small capacity one is underutilised with all the money going to build light rail to the southside. It’s time consuming to get in or out by private vehicle, public transport to and from it is a joke and the cost of tickets are expensive when you have a family. No wonder headline music acts don’t come to Canberra.

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