Ask any cricket fan around the world to think of Australia and their minds will go straight to the country’s amazing stadiums. There is nothing quite like the Boxing Day test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, better known as the MCG, or the New Year’s test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. These are iconic games at iconic venues that are watched around the world, whether it’s an Ashes series against the old enemy, or a trans-Tasmin battle against the Black Caps of New Zealand. So when it comes to top places to visit in Australia, you won’t go far wrong with a tour of our biggest and best stadiums.
One of the unique things about most Australian stadiums is their use by multiple teams playing multiple sports. This simply doesn’t happen in other major sporting nations around the world. In London, for example, you have two dedicated cricket grounds at Lord’s and The Oval, as well as Twickenham for rugby and Wembley for soccer. They simply wouldn’t entertain the idea of studs tearing up the turf at the ‘home of cricket’.
Yet here in Australia, the big stadiums are all multi-use, hosting a huge range of sports. For example, despite its name, Sydney Cricket Ground is not only home to test match and Big Bash T20 cricket, but also Aussie rules football, rugby league, rugby union and soccer. It has even seen Highland Games and Major League Baseball in its time. All of which leaves you in awe of the ground staff, who manage to keep the pitches playable for everything from studs to spikes.
Of course, when it comes to great Australian stadiums, none can compare to the MCG, but then that’s hardly surprising given its status as the tenth biggest sports stadium in the world. It is also the largest stadium in the southern hemisphere and the largest cricket ground by capacity anywhere on the planet. This jewel in the Australian sporting crown holds a massive 100,024 people, compared to just 30,000 at Lord’s or a mere 24,500 at The Oval in London. Once again, you’ll not only find top class cricket at the MCG, but also Aussie rules, international rugby union and a wealth of other pitch grinding sports.
Even if there is no game on, it’s still worth a trip to the MCG for the National Sports Museum. This fascinating place traces the history of all the main sports as well as Australian Olympic Games. While you’re there, don’t forget to take a peek at the stadium itself to see the sheer scale of the place.
Other iconic stadiums
As well as the SCG, Sydney is also home to Stadium Australia, also known as ANZ Stadium or Sydney Olympic Stadium, which also has a massive capacity. With seating for 83,500 fans, it will be the perfect venue for the 2019 NRL Grand Final. Two local teams, the Roosters and the Rabbitos, will be hoping that match will be a hometown fixture.
Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium underlines its super-stadium credentials in style with its latest sponsorship from Marvel, the comic book and blockbuster film company. It is, however, the Ant Man of the group with seating for just 56,347. Smaller still is Brisbane Cricket Ground, popularly known as The Gabba, which holds less than 40,000, yet is still one of the most attended, and best loved, stadiums in the country.
The best of old and new
While most of the above have been big news for decades, our final must-see stadium, the Adelaide Oval, has only recently come into its own. With the closure of Football Park in the city, the Oval has been transformed from a cute provincial cricket ground to a magnificent, world-class multi-sports stadium holding 55,000 fans. Yet despite the redevelopment, it has managed to maintain all its charm and character, including its historic scoreboard, prompting one journalist to describe it as “the most perfect piece of modern architecture – a thoroughly contemporary stadium with all the character that it’s had in the past”.