RAC Arena (known previously as Perth Arena) is a neofuturistic entertainment and sporting arena in the city centre of Perth, Western Australia, used mostly for basketball matches. It is located on Wellington Street near the site of the former Perth Entertainment Centre, and was officially opened on 10 November 2012. The Perth Arena is the first stage of the Perth City Link, a 13.5 hectare major urban renewal and redevelopment project which involves the sinking of the Fremantle railway line to link the Perth central business district directly with Northbridge.
The arena was jointly designed by architectural firms Ashton Raggatt McDougall and Cameron Chisholm Nicol. With its design based on the Eternity puzzle, the venue holds up to 13,910 spectators for tennis events, 14,846 for basketball (the arena’s capacity is capped at 13,000 for National Basketball League regular season games) and a maximum of 15,000 for music or rock concerts. The venue has a retractable roof, 36 luxury appointed corporate suites, a 680-bay underground car park, 5 dedicated function spaces, and touring trucks can drive directly onto the arena floor.
The inaugural General Manager of Perth Arena was David Humphreys, former General Manager of the Perth Entertainment Centre and Allphones Arena in Sydney. Humphreys died two months before the venue’s opening. AEG Ogden announced Steve Hevern as the interim General Manager on 3 October 2012.
The tender for the project was won by Western Australian construction consortium BGC, and work commenced on the site in June 2007.
The construction was marred by controversy in relation to the cost and time blowouts from the original $150 million estimate to $550 million. Auditor General Colin Murphy reported in 2010 that “The initial estimates of the cost and opening date for the Arena were unrealistic and made before the project was well understood or defined.” An example of the modifications to the original Arena design is the change of the carpark location from being built above the nearby railway line as a separate project to underneath the Arena itself.
For the first six years of operation, Perth Arena retained its non-commercial name. In September 2018, the venue name was changed to RAC Arena. The Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) agreed to a five year naming rights arrangement, with the deal estimated to be worth about $10 million to the West Australian Government. Prior to the name change, the West Australian Government had paid around $8 million to stadium operator AEG Ogden as compensation for not being able to sell the naming rights.
On 4 August 2018 Celine Dion performed at this arena for the first time as a part of Celine Dion Live 2018. This was the first show by Dion since Taking Chances World Tour to be held in Perth. On 12 October 2018 Cher also performed for the first time in Perth Arena as part of her Here We Go Again Tour .
The Perth Arena hosted its first National Basketball League game on 16 November 2012 when the Perth Wildcats played (and lost to) the Adelaide 36ers in front of a crowd of 11,562. The attendance was the largest recorded in Western Australia for an indoor event, breaking the previous record of 8,501 set at the Burswood Dome in 2004. The arena has since hosted larger crowds, with the current record being 13,611 set during the Wildcats 95-84 loss to the Adelaide 36ers in a top of the table clash on 14 January 2017 during Round 15 of the 2016–17 NBL season.
With a capacity of 14,846, Perth Arena is the second largest venue currently in use in the NBL (2016–17) behind the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney (18,200). The arena is also the 3rd largest venue ever used in the NBL behind Sydney and the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne (15,400).
On 2 January 2019, a record crowd of 14,064 attended the venue for the 2019 Hopman Cup match between United States and Switzerland. This was also the highest attendance for a tennis match in Western Australian history.
On 27 April 2013, the ANZ Championship netball played its first game at the Perth Arena when the West Coast Fever hosted the Melbourne Vixens, with the visiting Vixens running out 58-49 winners. The ANZ Championship returned to the venue on 12 May 2014 when the Fever hosted the NSW Swifts. The Fever have played four games at the Arena, in which all four have been defeats.
The first international netball test was played at the Arena on 30 October 2015 between Australia and New Zealand in the final test of the Constellation Cup. New Zealand were the winners, winning by 11 goals.The biggest crowd to a netball match at the Arena (and in Western Australia) was 12,845 which was recorded at the first international test held at the Arena.
In 2016, the West Coast Fever signed an agreement to play more games at the venue starting at the Suncorp Super Netball in 2017.
- “Govt settles BGC arena row”. The West Australian. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
- “Perth Arena price tag nears $550m”. PerthNow. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
- “First look inside Perth Arena”. The West Australian. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- “Perth City Link: Reconnecting the City”. Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Retrieved 2012-05-03.
- “Perth Arena Events Mode: Tennis” (PDF). VenuesWest. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- “Perth Arena Events Mode: Basketball” (PDF). VenuesWest. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- “Perth Arena Design”. AEG Ogden. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- “VenuesWest Media Release” (PDF). VenuesWest. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- “Big player to head Perth Arena”. The West Australian. Retrieved 2012-05-03.
- “Perth Arena general manager David Humphreys dies before venue opening”. Perth Now. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- “STEVE HEVERN APPOINTED INTERIM GENERAL MANAGER AT PERTH ARENA”. Australasian Leisure Management. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
- “Wildcats owner says Perth Arena will change basketball”. PerthNow. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- “Perth Arena to ensure Hopman Cup stays in WA”. WA Today. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- “Perth Arena costs have ‘blown out’, says WA auditor general”. PerthNow. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
- “Perth Arena to be RAC Arena after $10 million naming rights deal”. Perth Now. 19 August 2018.
- Chris Robinson (2012-11-21). “Adelaide 36ers spoil Perth Wildcats’ debut game at the new Perth Arena”. News Limited. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- “Record crowd at first home game”. Basketball Australia. 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- “Round 7 Stat Attack”. Basketball Australia. 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- “Perth Wildcats to open new venue with record crowd”. Basketball Australia. 2012-11-17. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- 2016-17 NBL Round 15 Perth vs Adelaide
- Ben Rothenberg (2019-01-02). “After two decades in the spotlight, Roger and Serena meet on court”. smh.com.au. Retrieved 2019-01-03.