Turnstiles could be the answer
By STEVE SPINKS
LISMORE City Council may have the answer to the number of people that can fit into Oakes Oval.
Last Saturday, The Northern Star revealed that there was a crowd of 8320 for the National Rugby League trial between Parramatta and Cronulla.
Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League, which ran the event, thought a crowd of 10,500 was closer to the mark.
Anecdotal evidence from sporting identities over the years suggests Oakes Oval has a capacity of between 5000 and 12,000 people.
But the secret may lie at the Lismore City Council's Wyrallah Road works depot ... metered turnstiles.
The parks and gardens storage shed houses four turnstiles.
They were donated to the council by a Nimbin man who had acquired them from Tweed Heads Seagulls rugby league club.
Former parks and recreation supervisor Laurie Cooper, who is no longer employed by the council, was the man who procured the turnstiles.
However, since bringing them back to the Wyrallah Road depot the turnstiles have sat idle because of other works have taken priority.
One of the drawbacks of the turnstiles is that they are token-operated and the council was not given any tokens.
"The keys for them can be cut and I spoke to Attard Steel, which said the tokens could be made up cheaply," Cooper said.
"There is a meter on them that can count how many people have gone in ... it would set the record straight once and for all in regard to numbers at Oakes Oval."
Parks co-ordinator Martin Soutar, who was appointed to the position only last year, said he had just learned that the council had the turnstiles.
"I believe they were donated some years ago," Mr Soutar said.
"Some aren't working, but it's certainly something we will be looking into.
"Obviously, there are other considerations at the moment."
Mr Soutar said the council was more concerned about getting large crowds into and out of Oakes Oval more efficiently.
"Installing turnstiles may slow that process down," he said.