Dockers star Michael Walters wants football fans to turn the Matagarup Bridge approach to Optus Stadium into the same type of iconic walkway that leads to the MCG in Melbourne.
The bridge will finally open tomorrow, before the club’s game against Port Adelaide, after initial estimates suggested a late 2016 completion.
Walters said that as an Aboriginal, the opening of the bridge for a Fremantle game at the end of NAIDOC Week, the annual celebration of indigenous culture, made it an extra special occasion.
He hoped fans would embrace the bridge and walk as they do in Melbourne, when they gather in droves at Birrarung Marr park for the journey to the MCG, particularly on grand final day or for the annual Long Walk.
“It is going to be massive for WA supporters and the whole community and hopefully it means the same to them as it does to the fans in Melbourne,” Walters said. “Hopefully we can start our own chapter here in Perth and for this to open at the same time as NAIDOC Week is massive.
“We’ve got the oval and now we’ve got the bridge and all this is something I’m going to look back on at the end of my career and be very proud of.”
Fremantle’s no.1 ticketholder, Richard Walley, said the bridge was a place of great significance.
“Our people used to live on the side of these areas all along this river,” he said.
“It was camping grounds, fishing grounds, playgrounds.
“It was everything wrapped into one and a very significant place. It’s also significant in that it crosses from one side to another because our people used to cross over the river many a time and they used to wait for the seasons.
“The Matagarup was where the footprints were in the shallow water and the bridge is emulating something that’s been happening for thousands of years.”
Gloucester Park chief executive Michael Radley said it would open its Bridge Bar to coincide with tomorrow’s Dockers match.
Optus Stadium tickets would allow entry to the bar.
BY THE NUMBERS
5200 cubic metres of concrete, equivalent to almost 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with concrete.
900 lineal metres of LED lighting, 16 million lighting combinations
72m at its highest point, 400m from bank to bank
Maximum steel cable-stay span 140m
22,000 bolts on the arches and 12,000 on the deck
2,200 tonnes of steel
1.5km of steel cables
3000 workers over the life of the project