• The crowds come out out for women's sports (like the Diamonds in August 2015) but they can't for long if facilities aren't there (Matt King/Getty)
The war of words over the distribution of 1.6 billion dollars of taxpayer funds to three major Sydney stadiums has dominated headlines this week. But the needs and considerations of one party have been very much left on the bench.
By
Zela

15 Apr 2016 - 1:19 PM  UPDATED 15 Apr 2016 - 1:44 PM

The Allianz tenants, the Roosters, Sydney FC and the Waratahs are angry over the NSW State government’s decision to allocate only 450 million dollars towards their stadium revamp.

But it’s women who should be crying foul.

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After all, half of the taxpayers funding this extravagance are female.

How have their needs have been met in these proposals?

“(The plans) don’t talk anywhere about improving access for women and girls,” says Julie Anderson, the vice president of the Australian Womensport Recreation Association.  

“Why do we need to upgrade three venues when we could spend some of that money on focusing on venues for women and girls?”

Anderson’s not asking for hundreds of millions of dollars, but she’s conscious that venues which cater for women haven’t improved in years.

She’s calling for more inclusive facilities for fans, at the very least.

“What about flexible seating that reduces the size of the stadium for women’s sport, to be able to sit comfortably and feel like there’s a full atmosphere? 50% of the fans are women, where are the change facilities, where are the rooms for mothers to be able to breast feed and warm up meals for their children?”

The need for more facility funding isn’t just a matter of fairness and equality, it’s a smart business decision.  

The popularity of female sport has exploded in the last 12 months.

The women’s Big Bash on Ten turned out to be the smash of the summer.

TV executives were left stunned when average viewing figures came in at 200 thousand, 10 times the numbers expected.

The Diamonds won the world netball cup in Sydney and the women’s exhibition AFL match broadcast on network 7 was another surprise ratings hit.

As female athletes get more TV time, sports fans are starting to realise their skill, tenacity and talent is easily equal to the men.

While the boys tend to be all about power, women focus on technique.

It gives supporters something different and clubs and organisations are starting to notice.

Cricket Australia has improved women’s pay conditions for its full-time athletes.

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The AFL is developing a new women’s domestic competition and the ARU are increasingly improving conditions for female players.

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But if we’re to truly harness the audience and bring them out in support, the facilities have to be there.   

The talent is, the audience is, and the crowds…If we build it they will come.