Brumbies fans don’t come more loyal or passionate than rugby obsessive Michael Cooney, which is why we reckon he’s qualified to brief us all on the benefits for Canberrans of certainty about the team’s future in the capital region
1. Now we might get Adele. It’s not just about sport.
Stay with me on this one. The Brumbies are more than just a rugby team. They’re an anchor tenant for a big public facility in Canberra – GIO Stadium – and that means their continued presence is essential to the viability of a stadium in Civic.
And just like the Brumbies are more than a rugby team, a stadium is more than a rugby ground. A Dunedin-style indoor stadium is a natural venue for big concerts, dance parties and all sorts of young people fun.
Who knows, maybe we’ll attract one of those crazy darts events that ends in a riot of plastic chairs and guys with circular swirls of hair colour standing on picnic tables. The possibilities are endless.
2. Now we might get A-League soccer – and it’s good for the Raiders’ bottom line. It’s not just about rugby.
Saving the Brumbies means saving the Lakeside Stadium dream and that means all sorts of possibilities. A-League soccer will be a lot more financially viable here with a right-sized stadium down town. The Raiders’ bottom line will be better in a stadium where the owner (the Government, most likely) makes more money per seat.
Growth begets growth and now we have a chance to “make the pie higher” in George W Bush’s famous phrase.
3. The southern end of Civic is going to be awesome. It’s not just about events.
Picture what the land between the Lakeside and the ANU used to be like. If you don’t remember, google “car park”. Honestly, it wasn’t even good for skateboards. Now picture New Acton.
Now, picture something that great between Constitution Avenue and Parkes Way you really have something great for our city. I’ve lived in Canberra so long I had the Electric Shadows poster on the back of a toilet door and seriously, it’s been a night time desert down there since the 1980s when they used to close the bar next to the movies just before the movie finished.
If the Brumbies really are staying, all that changes.
4. Big events bring people together and that really matters. It’s not just about buildings.
What’s the biggest difference between Sydney and Melbourne? Melbourne people basically like other Melbourne people. Sydney people basically don’t like other Sydney people.
Why? Because Sydney has less social capital – less trust in strangers. And that’s because there are fewer chances for everyone in Sydney to get together.
As a city, when in doubt, there’s a simple rule: don’t be Sydney. So let’s keep anything that brings lots of people together in one place so we know that strangers who look, sound or sing different from you are actually people who will probably help you on to the bus, not people who you should be afraid of.
5. We get to keep beating New South Wales. I admit, it’s mostly about rugby.
WE GET TO KEEP BEATING NEW SOUTH WALES, PEOPLE.
Rugby is the only big sport in which we get to do that.
The Raiders can stick it up flash parts of Sydney from time to time, but as satisfying as that is, nothing is as satisfying as beating the Tahs.
Geoff Didier says that on the bus home from Concord Oval in 1994 after the first time the ACT ever beat NSW in rugby, there was:
“A lot of singing, a lot of drinking, and a lot of nudity.”
Happily, I have to take his word for that. But even I was there in the stands in 2013 when we rolled the British and Irish Lions and my son and I nearly cried, it wasn’t as good as beating NSW in March that year. Oh my, the last try against New South Wales on the Centenary Long Weekend, when the kick through bounced high and then came down into the arms of Robbie-Coleman-from-Queanbeyan and he leapt over the line and we leapt for joy on our own special day.
Being there was a moment never to forget. And if the Brumbies are staying, we get to do it again next year.
Michael Cooney got off school to see the ACT beat Argentina at Rugby Park Ainslie in 1983.
Caption: Michael Conney supporting the Brumbies v Warratahs – pictured yelling bottom right.