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The WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association Ground), which is built on old swamp land, has been the home to many sports, including AFL, rugby (both codes) and soccer, but its real fame is as a cricket ground. Although it was first used in 1890, transport problems meant it was not part of Australia's main cricket community. The arduous trip from the east was eased a little with the building of a railway, but the journey still took several days. It was only with the introduction of scheduled flights that Perth become truly accessible.
The WACA staged its first Test in 1970-71 and soon established a reputation for being a fast and hard track, and that continued until the last couple of years when the surface flattened out. The often intense Perth heat is famously eased in the afternoon by the Fremantle Doctor, a breeze which sweeps in along the Swan River.
The future of the WACA has been increasingly under the spotlight and despite investment in the spectator accommodation, the switch of AFL to the nearby purpose-built Subiaco Oval [capacity 43,000] has led to serious financial issues and the WACA has struggled to pay its way.
In 2002, the ground was redeveloped and its capacity reduced to make it more economical. Features included building a new small grandstand and players' pavilion, reducing the size of the playing arena, and replacing seats with grass hills on each side and replacing all the seats with new ones. As a result, the permanent capacity of the stadium is 22,000 with the use of temporary stands used for all major events to boost it to 24,500.
Martin Williamson December 2006
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