Perth's new stadium will not host an Ashes Test this summer and may miss the 2017-18 cricket season altogether after the West Australian government confirmed there was no chance of the project being completed in time for the third match between Australia and England in mid-December.
Having expressed optimism about the Ashes Test being held at the stadium as recently as Monday, the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland admitted disappointment at being told that such a scenario had little basis in reality when meeting with WA government ministers and stadium management in Perth on Tuesday.
"Well I guess it's good now we have some certainty around where the Perth Test match is going to be played this year as part of the Ashes series," Sutherland said in Perth. "It'll be played here at the WACA Ground across the river. We received advice yesterday in meetings with government, [WACA CEO] Christina Matthews, [WACA president] Ken Michael and myself received the news that the new Perth Stadium wouldn't be ready for the Ashes Test match.
"Coming over here to Perth on this trip, we did know that it needed to be finished ahead of time and everything needed to come together, but it was still disappointing. We were really hoping that the Test match could be played at this magnificent new stadium. Nonetheless there's lots to look forward to, with tickets to go on sale very shortly."
In contrast to CA's hopes for the stadium to host an Ashes Test, or at very least the ODI between Australia and England on January 28 next year, the state government could only confirm the venue will be ready in time for an Ed Sheeran concert to be played in early March ahead of next year's AFL season. Either way, the WACA Ground looks set to host not only the Ashes match but also the BBL and WBBL fixtures for the Perth Scorchers.
"The meetings we had yesterday led us to believe it is still a very strong chance that the ODI on Sunday the 28th of January next year will be played at the new Perth Stadium," Sutherland said. "I was very fortunate to have a tour of the new stadium yesterday and it really is exciting to see an absolutely brilliant, state-of-the-art sporting stadium - Perth fans don't yet know what they have been missing out on.
"At this stage the way the timing works it's probably unlikely that any of the Big Bash League or Women's Big Bash League matches will be played at the new stadium. There is a slight chance that if we get to finals time that the final could be played at the new Perth Stadium, and we know West Australians like to think the final's played in Perth every year, but let's wait and see with that. It certainly would be wonderful."
The stadium has been subject to numerous construction delays in recent months, largely related to a footbridge to be erected across the Swan River, easing access from Perth's CBD to the Burswood location of the venue. WA recently voted out the Liberal government of Colin Barnett, leaving the endgame in the hands of Labor.
"The idea of an Ashes Test opening the Perth Stadium was only ever a Colin Barnett thought bubble. The scheduled opening has always been the start of the 2018 AFL season and that is what we're working towards," the WA sport and recreation minister Mick Murray said.
"Hosting the Ashes Test at the new stadium would have been a spectacle, but unfortunately it's just not possible and the State Government is now working to correct the problems we have inherited. Confirmation of the Ed Sheeran concert in March 2018, just ahead of the first AFL match is a fantastic outcome for Western Australians, and we will continue to investigate the possibility of earlier events."