The damp patches on the carpet near the player change rooms at Canberra Stadium are the first signs of age. Somehow the rain has leaked through the almost 50-year-old Meninga Stand and players have to dodge dripping water before running on to the field.
Canberra's premier sporting venue is old, rundown and in need of urgent repairs. But is Chief Minister Andrew Barr's vision to build a new stadium a pipe-dream, or a genuine plan for the future?
Canberra's stadium debate gathered new momentum this week after the ACT Brumbies and Canberra Raiders played at a sparkling $350 million venue at Parramatta.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart and his players fell in love with it instantly. Ditto for Brumbies coach Dan McKellar and his squad.
"A new stadium would unify Canberra and the surrounding regions. It's for people who support all codes and different events, they deserve the comforts of a modern-day stadium," Stuart says.
"I really support Andrew Barr and I know there are some hurdles, but you can overcome them. The good thing is we've got a Chief Minister who wants to build it.
"It's not just about football. It's about the precinct, people want atmosphere and buzz around a stadium. It brings people together, it would bring the community together."
Barr was a guest at the Brumbies game, making it at least stop No. 10 on a worldwide tour to find the perfect design for a potential new $400 million stadium in Civic. Barr's search is now in its 10th year, so are we getting closer to the final answer?
"There's no doubt in my mind, by the mid 2020s, at least part of the current Canberra Stadium will be 50 years old. That is the end of its life," Barr says.
"The need to do something is clear. Exactly what that is, is contingent on a range of other factors. But it's a project I believe in, and I'm looking for the best way to deliver it."
A decade of huffing and puffing about the need to redevelop Canberra Stadium, which was built in 1977 as an athletics track, or build a new venue has gone almost nowhere.
Maybe that's because investing in stadiums is a sensitive political issue, drawing plenty of criticism about spending money on sport instead of education, hospitals and transport.
The NSW government had planned to spend $2.5 billion on knocking down and rebuilding two stadiums in Sydney. The backlash prompted a sidestep: reducing the spending to $1.5 billion to rebuild the Sydney Football Stadium and refurbish the Olympic Stadium.
So does Canberra need a new stadium at a time the government is projecting an $89 million budget deficit in the next financial year?
Many say the money should be spent elsewhere to fund health and education. A new stadium would cost close to $400 million. In the past 10 years, according to agency audited financial statements, the government has spent $23 billion on health and education.
The reality is the government will need to make significant investments at Canberra Stadium just to keep it up to industry standards even if it doesn't build a new stadium.
Glass panels have fallen out of the top of Meninga Stand in the past, only a small percentage of seats are covered by a roof and the stadium's location is isolated from bars, cafes and restaurants.
So it was timely Barr sat next to architect Al Baxter at a function in Sydney last week.
Baxter, a former Wallabies prop, says new stadiums have to be about more than sport.
The company Baxter works for, Populous, has designed and built the $5 million media centre at Manuka Oval, the new Parramatta stadium, a venue with a roof in Dunedin and a $1.5 billion stadium for English Premier League soccer team Tottenham.
"Stadiums are big bits of infrastructure and they are expensive. But the big thing about it is that it gives fans a home. It's community building," Baxter says.
"It's somewhere you can get together. These days it has to be more than just a stadium though. So Parramatta has basketball courts, slides, cafes ... some have bars and restaurants.
"Parramatta needed a conference area. They get that in the new stadium with built in rooms. We know stadiums have to do more than just sport. They have to be an event centre.
"The most heavily used stadiums get used 50-60 times per year. There's another 300 days in the year, so it has to be a community asset as well."
The government pays $350,000 per year to rent Canberra Stadium from Sport Australia, a federal government body, to host Brumbies and Raiders games.
The Kate Carnell-led ACT government had a chance to buy Canberra Stadium in 1999 for $11.25 million. The government declined, opting instead for a peppercorn lease until 2024. The terms of the lease have changed over the years from a five-cent rental agreement to now $350,000.
Barr launched his stadium vision in 2009, investing $750,000 in the development of a stadium masterplan for Canberra Stadium and Manuka Oval.
Since then he's been to stadiums in Wellington, Dunedin, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Singapore.
But the stadium project has been delayed by the $1 billion Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos clean up and the light rail investment.
The uncertainty of the AIS precinct has also pushed back stadium plans. The AIS could reduce its land footprint by up to 30 hectares and sell Canberra Stadium to the ACT government.
The ACT government and federal government would then rezone the land for residential development, and share the profits which could be worth more than $300 million.
There are other issues on Barr's mind. Like having to relocate the Civic pool and how to fit a 25,000-seat stadium on the site in the city. Then there's parking, traffic congestion and the type of grass to be used.
Barr also wants Canberra to win an A-League licence to ensure the stadium would be used year round, rather than just in winter months.
There have also been plans for the stadium to include a hotel, conference rooms for week-day use and the ability to host major concerts.
"We won't pay off the Mr Fluffy loan until 2024," Barr says.
"The question of location is the second point. Clearly the uncertainty of the institute of sport impacts on the timing and a potential revenue source to at least partially fund [a new stadium].
"One proposal could be that at the end of the current lease, we could rezone the land. There would be some sort of profit-share to see the Commonwealth to take a share to put towards upgrading the institute of sport and the ACT government could take a share of the revenue to put towards a new stadium in the city.
"I think that is the preferred way forward from our perspective."
There are also calls for federal government investment, like the arrangement for Townsville's soon-to-be-complete $300 million venue. Canberra Stadium hasn't had a major upgrade since the 2000 Olympic Games.
But it is understandable to question why it's important to invest in a new venue given Canberra Stadium's playing surface is one of the best in Australia and is only used between 20-30 days per year.
Brumbies crowd numbers have dwindled over the past decade and the club is in danger of slumping to the lowest average attendance in Super Rugby history if there isn't a decent turnout to their last home game on Saturday night.
But new stadiums, particularly in the city, can also generate revenue. Redeveloping the Adelaide Oval was expected to boost economic activity by $200 million.
The Western Sydney Business chamber expected the new Parramatta stadium to generate $176 million in its first two years.
"The stadium was not in the budget last week because there's a hospital, and schools, and public housing and roads. Because they're more important at the moment," Barr says.
"There's only so many large pieces of infrastructure we can take on at one point in time."
The Brumbies and Raiders say moving the stadium to the city will entice more fans to come to games, creating a better game-day experience and being surrounded by pubs and restaurants rather than being isolated at Bruce.
The Canberra Times revealed last year there was a private push for the stadium to be built in Civic, rising over the top of Parkes Way and connecting the city to Lake Burley Griffin.
The private plans also include the stadium being a part of Floriade, restaurants and the potential of a new convention centre being built adjacent to the stadium.
The Canberra community, however, has been skeptical about private investment in major infrastructure projects.
The government dumped an unsolicited bid from the GWS Giants and Grocon to redevelop Manuka Oval and the surrounding areas two years ago. The "Manuka Green" project would have cost $800 million.
"People don't just want to go to a game any more. They want dinner and a game or dinner and a concert. For rugby league, a new stadium is something I believe our fans deserve," Stuart says.
"It would put the capital on the map. It's the one thing our city is lacking."