Empty seats: Another small crowd at Canberra Stadium last year. Photo: Melissa Adams
ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr claims crowd figures to Canberra's professional football codes have been inflated in previous years, leading to lower recorded numbers this year.
Officials from the Raiders and Brumbies are in agreement about the need for the proposed indoor stadium in Civic to go ahead to boost crowd numbers.
Attendances at the Brumbies and the Raiders at Canberra Stadium have come under the spotlight after the early part of the NRL and Super Rugby seasons.
Just 7129 fans watched the Brumbies beat the Auckland Blues 26-9 last Friday night in driving rain, the lowest crowd to a Canberra Stadium Super Rugby game since a tiny 4000 in 1999.
The Raiders attracted just 9636 fans against the Gold Coast Titans last month, however that was an increase of more than 1000 people on the corresponding fixture two years ago.
The Raiders are back at home this Saturday at 3pm against the Newcastle Knights, with the GWS Giants hosting the Western Bulldogs an hour and a half later at 4.40pm at Manuka Oval.
"I think they're actually more honest figures, I think the crowd figures have been inflated in previous years, often by 2000,'' Barr said.
"If you were to go back and look at what the actual numbers were before the inflation of numbers, it wouldn't reflect as much of a downward trend that people might think.
"Undoubtedly weather has been a major factor, as is who the local teams are playing against."
Raiders chief executive Don Furner said the discrepancy was more likely to be in the hundreds because of changes to how members and NRL junior pass holders were accounted for stemming from upgrades to the ticketing system at Canberra Stadium.
"In years gone by, the scanners didn't pick up the junior passes and the members are a sold seat, so there used to be a factor but no way [was it 2000],'' Furner said.
"The scanners now pick up everything, so we're more confident everything gets picked up.
"There's a lot less they allow us to put on top."
Barr admitted it wasn't ideal that the Raiders and Giants were playing on the same day, but said the government was using initiatives such as free public transport with a pre-purchased game ticket to entice patrons along.
The ACT government has raised the prospect of building an indoor stadium in Civic within the next decade, something Furner said was essential.
"We need a newer stadium undercover and with Wi-Fi capabilities so that the experience at the ground is better than the experience at home,'' Furner said.
"All sport faces a challenge for the entertainment dollar, that's why we would, along with the ACT government, push for an enclosed stadium.
''Out of all the cities in Australia, we have the toughest weather conditions to sell sport in.''
Interim Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards hoped that still remained on the cards.
"It would have fixed everything,'' Edwards said.
"We would have had 12,000 or 15,000 if we had an indoor stadium.
"I know the minister's working on that, it's something he's quite passionate about and he's pushing forward with it."