During this year's NSW election campaign, the question of stadiums was one of few clear divides between the Coalition and the Labor Party.
Many of the state's voters were concerned by the prospect of footing a $2.2 billion bill to rebuild two sports grounds in Sydney. The Labor opposition called it an unnecessary "splurge" that demonstrated the Liberals' warped priorities. Labor leader Michael Daley, in what was one of the campaign's only colourful events, told broadcaster Alan Jones that the SCG Trust, on which Jones served as a director, had misled the public about the stadiums' condition and he would sack Jones if Labor won the election.
The Coalition, meanwhile, said the two stadiums - one built 20 years ago, the other 31 - had deteriorated beyond the point of refurbishment. A world city like Sydney needed showcase venues for major sporting spectacles; such events were a crucial part of the local economy and culture.
Canberra is not a world city, at least not on the scale of Sydney. Yet it will soon be home to half a million people. Its ageing stadium in Bruce was built 42 years ago - and it shows. It's doubtful Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was at the venue on Thursday when his beloved Cronulla Sharks lost to the Raiders, much enjoyed the spectacle. The stadium's stark, open design is particularly unforgiving on a winter evening in the capital, especially when one's team falls short.
Will Mr Morrison's government decide that a new Canberra stadium is worthy of federal funding? More relevantly, do Canberrans want it? It's unlikely to be as divisive an issue as was the similar debate in NSW. But some Canberrans, at least, will question whether a new stadium is worth the cost, especially if they alone are paying for it.
The stadium industry in Australia has a peculiarity that is mostly lacking elsewhere in the world. In this country, governments, rather than sports clubs or businesses, tend to build and own stadiums, for a range of reasons. For example, premier sports matches tend to attract larger crowds in Australia than in many other countries. And governments - local, state and federal - have always been involved heavily in Australian sport, whether by subsiding teams and clubs directly or by providing the grounds they play on.
Some Canberrans will question whether a new stadium is worth the cost, especially if they alone are paying for it.
There are obvious public benefits in this government involvement, but it likely contributes to the relatively high construction costs of stadiums in this country. The new 30,000-seat venue in Parramatta, which fans acclaim, cost about $350 million. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has suggested a smaller, lakeside venue, perhaps seating 25,000 people, could cost up to $400 million.
Nonetheless, a modern stadium is warranted in a city with two professional and one semi-professional football teams, especially if the design is flexible enough for the venue to be used for other purposes, and if it is built in a central, well-trafficked location like Civic. As Mr Barr said regularly of the ACT's light rail investment, there is no better time to spend on infrastructure than now, when the cost of borrowing money is negligible. With new doubts emerging over the light rail's expansion, a stadium project could stimulate the ACT economy at a time construction activity is slowing.
This could happen even without federal aid. Perhaps the ACT government could reconsider whether the gold-plated, 25,000-seat option is appropriate, given that slightly smaller stadiums elsewhere in the world are built for a fraction of the cited $400 million price. Stadiums can also be built with the capacity to be expanded at a later date. All that's needed is a decision.