With a record A-League crowd of 60,000-plus set to pour into the Olympic venue for the weekend clash, the chance to generate massive attendances and gate takings in excess of $500,000 for one match – which could potentially be shared by the clubs – is proving a temping incentive as what is emerging as one of world football’s most heated contests continues to evolve.
Though there is little love lost between the Wanderers and Sky Blues hierarchies, the lucrative prospect of an annual bonanza at ANZ Stadium, to go along with one game between the teams at Moore Park and another at the soon-to-be rebuilt and rebranded Western Sydney Stadium has concentrated the minds of the not-so-friendly neighbours.
As things stand, with the former Pirtek Stadium set to undergo a three-year facelift in its transformation into a 30,000 capacity rectangular venue, ANZ is already the venue for five Wanderers games this season.
That includes two derbies expected to generate well over 100,000 in attendances between them and gate takings of close to $1 million.
This season's other clash at the Sydney Football Stadium will likely to be a 40,000 sell-out.
The current agreement between the Wanderers and ANZ to stage derbies will continue until their new home ground is back on line in 2019.
By then it’s thought a deal may already be in place to continue to capitalise on the city’s most cavernous venue.
It’s believed that although ANZ will undergo renovations of its own, starting in 2019, it will still be capable of hosting derbies with its current 83,000 capacity cut by around 30,000. When work is completed it will have a capacity of 75,000.
While members of both clubs have in the past resisted leaving their traditional homes for ANZ, the carnival-like atmosphere which awaits both teams on Saturday night in an audience which will be two-thirds Wanderers fans is expected to change some long-held perceptions.
The rationale from ANZ chefs is that staging an annual derby will only grow the rivalry between clubs by making the game accessible to a wider spectrum of fans.
To put that into perspective, the 60,000-plus gate expected on Saturday is over three times Wanderers’ previous record gate at Pirtek stadium of 19,627 in last season’s derby against Sydney.