Cheika in awe of ‘simply amazing’ Cup venue

MICHAEL Cheika joked that now is not the time to talk grand new stadium designs for Sydney but he has been wowed by a glimpse into the future in Japan at the Wallabies’ opening Rugby World Cup venue.

The Wallabies coach was amazed at the technology at the Sapporo Dome where his team will play indoors when taking on Fiji on September 21 next year in the Japanese city on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Cheika visited Sapporo on Sunday for a stadium tour and meet-and-greet with local dignitaries while his Wallabies settled into Tokyo ahead of Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks in Yokohama.

Michael Cheika got a nice reception upon visiting Sapporo.Source:AAP

He is also a voter in the seat of Wentworth in Sydney’s east which is gripped by a tight count from last Saturday’s by-election that is set to oust the Liberal Party for Independent Kerryn Phelps.

The seat covers the Moore Park precinct where Allianz Stadium, a long-time home for the NRL, the A-League and rugby union, is being rebuilt at a cost of around $729 million.

It is a stunning step towards a modern, world-class stadium, with a distinctive hi-tech roof, for supporters or a waste of money for detractors.

Cheika was staying well away from anything that looked or smelt like a political football when asked if the 41,000-seat Sapporo Dome was a potential blueprint for a new stadium in Sydney.

“Listen, I’m a member of Wentworth and I’m staying out of things political for the next 48 hours,” Cheika said with a laugh.

What makes the Sapporo Dome so eye-popping is that it takes just a single afternoon to transform it from a baseball stadium to a rectangular field suited for the local football teams or occasional code visitors like rugby.

Michael Cheika gets to meet a few of the locals.Source:AAP

A huge natural turf football or rugby field, 120m by 85m, rolls from outdoors into a roofed stadium on wheels and air pressure through a sliding wall.

The 8300 tonne football field grows outside with natural sun and watering when no games are scheduled and is wheeled in for games.

“I was really surprised by the venue. A match there is going to be really special because I’ve never been inside a stadium or venue like it with the way it changes from a baseball field to a soccer-rugby field,” Cheika said.

“It’s outrageous. It was like a spaceship.”

Originally published as Cheika in awe of ‘simply amazing’ Cup venue

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