Leederville Oval: A Mount Hawthorn man's vision, 1959
In the late 1950s West Perth Football Club president Dick Fletcher had a dream for the land now occupied by Leederville Oval, the City of Vincent Administration building and the Loftus Centre – which is interesting in the light of the discussions in recent years over where a new sports stadium should be built.
Perth at that time was discussing locations for the construction of facilities for the Seventh British Empire and Commonwealth Games, which were held in November 1962. Dick Fletcher predicted that
“The proposed games stadium at Reabold Hill will become a lumbering white elephant after the games are over- and estimated expenditure there is a cool £250,000.”
His vision was for Leederville Oval to become the athletic stadium for the Games.
“For at least £100,000 less, Leederville Oval, already the site of an Australian athletic championships, could be made a show place….with the type of development that could be made for the Games, Leederville Oval could accommodate 100,000 people.”
He pointed out that there was more land available at the back of the oval.
“The whole area would then become a vast sporting centre. The decision to build the Games swimming pool in Beatty Park puts it only a few yards from Leederville Oval. The basketball stadium will also be very close.”
It made sense that any facilities built should be close to the city centre and well connected by public transport. Perth Oval could also have been suitable, but was not as close to Beatty Park.
“If Leederville Oval became league headquarters, the Perth City Council could be sure of handsome returns from the ground – I shudder to think what their revenue will be from Reabold Hill.
The games village could still be constructed at Floreat Park with special buses for the athletes having easy access to Leederville, as they would already be doing for the swimmers and basketballers."
The whole idea sounded like a wonderful opportunity,
'The Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of Melbourne’s most spectacular show pieces – under Dick Fletcher’s scheme Leederville Oval could be ours.’
His final comments were that only football could make use of these large stadiums to provide a reasonable return for the colossal expenditure, as it was far and away the best money spinner.
“Now the growing doubt in the minds of football authorities about the future of Subiaco Oval as our football headquarters should not go unnoticed by Perth City Council. Leederville Oval could meet all requirements.”
Extracted from Daily News, 27 November, 1959
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