Subiaco Oval (//; also known under naming rights as Domain Stadium, and colloquially as Subi) is a disused stadium located in Subiaco, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia. Formerly the highest capacity stadium in Western Australia and one of the main stadiums in Australia, seating 43,500 people, the ground was the home of Australian rules football in Western Australia, being the home ground for the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Football Club, the two Western Australian teams in the Australian Football League (AFL). The ground was also used for occasional West Australian Football League (WAFL) matches, including the competition’s yearly grand final. The stadium also hosted Perth Glory games, including two National Soccer League grand finals, international rules matches, rugby union games and rock concerts. It was the home ground for the Western Force between 2006 and 2009.
The ground was first built in 1908, at which point it was known as Mueller Park. In 1969 a three-tier stand was constructed at the western end of the stadium, and in 1981 a two-tier stand on the members’ wing was completed. A further redevelopment came in 1995 with the opening of the new two-tier “ANZ Stand” (now NAB Stand) opposite the members’ wing. In 1997, light towers were installed at the ground. The last redevelopment, which converted the stadium into an all-seat venue with a capacity of approximately 43,500 was completed in 1999 at a cost of A$35 million.
The three-tier stand is named the Orr-Simons-Hill stand, in honour of three leading figures in the history of WAFL (then known as WANFL). This was proudly and prominently displayed on the exterior western face of the stand right up until the early 1990s, when it was replaced with the logo of a commercial sponsor. There is a small plaque remembering the original naming of the stand, mounted in one of the stairwells, and each tier has a sign on the back interior wall; for example, the first (ground) tier is the R. W. Hill Tier, and the second is the W. R. Orr Tier. (W. R. Orr was secretary of the WANFL in 1932, R. W. Hill was captain of West Perth in 1940 and 1941, and secretary of the WANFL in 1968). The ground is floodlit by four lighting towers.
AFL playing surface:
- Length: 175 m (574.15 ft)
- Width: 122 m (400.26 ft)
- Goals run east to west
Fence to fence
- Length: 191 m (626.64 ft)
- Width: 132 m (433.07 ft)
Subiaco Oval was the longest ground in the AFL competition, with visiting interstate teams often having to adjust their playing style accordingly. Between 2000 and 2017, the ground was sometimes referred to as “The House of Pain”, with many visiting teams losing by lopsided scores.
Ground naming rights
In 2003, the retail telecommunications company Crazy John’s controversially attempted to buy the naming rights to the ground, but the bid was denied by the local Subiaco council, which refused planning permission for advertising signs on the stadium’s exterior. In May 2005, a non-commercial name change was being considered; the proposal to rename to ‘ANZAC Field’ was put forward by the West Australian Football Commission, but rejected by the Minister for Veterans Affairs, De-Anne Kelly, as Anzac is a federally protected word. In October 2010, Perth-based stockbroker Patersons Securities bought the naming rights, and the name of the ground was changed to Patersons Stadium. The Western Australian Football Commission accepted it and said it would put money back into all levels of football.
In February 2015, it was announced that real estate company the Domain Group would take over naming rights from Patersons Securities, and the ground was subsequently renamed Domain Stadium. The deal lasted for three years, the period of time before the new Perth Stadium opened its doors in 2018.
As a music venue
Subiaco Oval has been the venue of major music concerts. These include:
- Elton John – 16 October 1971
- The Bee Gees – 4 February 1972
- Duke Ellington and His Orchestra – 5 February 1972
- Led Zeppelin – 16 February 1972
- Slade – 31 January 1973
- Genesis – 6 December 1986
- Australian Made – 10 January 1987
- Billy Joel – 16 February 1991
- Paul McCartney – 5 March 1993
- Elton John & Billy Joel – 4 March 1998
- Rumba Festival – 3 December 2002
- Eagles – 11 November 2004
- Rod Stewart & Bryan Adams – 26 February 2005
- Neil Diamond – 19 March 2005
- Pearl Jam – 25 November 2006
- Robbie Williams – 30 November and 1 December 2006
- Bon Jovi – 25 January 2008 – 28,790 people (attendance)
- André Rieu – 22 November 2008
- AC/DC – 6 and 8 March 2010
- Bon Jovi – 8 December 2010 – 29,644 people (attendance)
- U2 – 18 and 19 December 2010
- Summadayze – 6 January 2013
- Origin NYE Festival – 31 December 2014
- One Direction – 20 February 2015 – 28,968 people (attendance)
- Fleetwood Mac – 30 October 2015
- AC/DC – 27 and 29 November 2015
- Guns N’ Roses – 21 February 2017
- Adele – 28 February 2017
Due to its large size and oval shape, the venue was not well suited to music concerts and was known to have very poor acoustics. It was often chosen for large concerts because there were no other venues of comparable capacity in Perth.
The oval was served by Subiaco and West Leederville stations, which were upgraded to handle more passengers. Special bus services were run for football matches and other special events. After 2007, tickets to AFL games included free travel on buses and trains for three hours before and after the game. That increased the proportion of football fans using public transport from 23.4% to 32.6%, with Dockers fans more likely to do so than Eagles fans. The completion of the Mandurah railway line was expected to increase public transport patronage to the ground, by replacing buses from south of the river with faster and larger trains.
Proposals for rebuilding
In 2005 the West Australian Football Commission released a $235 million plan (excluding transport infrastructure or land acquisitions) to increase the stadium to a 60,000 seat venue in a staged project. However, this proposal became a matter of significant debate in Western Australia. Although the demand for a larger stadium was undeniable (in 2005 the West Coast Eagles had 42,000 season ticket holders in a 43,500 seat stadium), the option of developing and expanding Subiaco in order to meet this higher demand was called into question. An alternative plan was tabled for the construction of a new stadium which would seat 70,000 and have retractable seating to cater for rectangular field codes, and appeared to be the lead candidate. Others argued that it may be more cost effective to re-develop Subiaco to 60,000 seats, and redevelop Perth Oval, a small rectangular stadium in Perth, to 35,000 seats to cater for rectangular field sports.
The Government of Western Australia had already commenced development of a major stadia review project in late 2003 which led to much interest in the future of major sporting venues in Western Australia. A major stadia taskforce was appointed in early 2005 and released the Perth major stadium interim report in June 2006. The taskforce delivered its final report in May 2007, which recommended the construction of a new 60,000 seat stadium at either Kitchener Park (which adjoins Subiaco Oval) or in East Perth, suitable for Australian rules football, cricket and also rectangular-field sports such as rugby. It recommended against the further development of Subiaco Oval, which would be demolished.
In July 2007 the Government of Western Australia announced its preference to build a new 60,000-seat stadium rather than re-develop Subiaco Oval. Early the following year, the Government confirmed that Subiaco Oval would be demolished for the new Perth super-stadium to be built at the adjacent Kitchener Park. The new 60,000 seat stadium would be built between 2011 and 2016, with the majority of the stadium being completed in 2014. Subiaco Oval was set to be demolished between 2014–2016 to allow the end of construction on the new stadium.
Following the election of a new state Liberal party government, Premier Colin Barnett, announced in February 2009 that, in light of the state’s deteriorating finances, his government had scrapped plans for a new outdoor stadium. He stated that a new stadium, including an alternative proposal to redevelop Subiaco Oval, would not be considered for at least two years. However, in December 2009 he announced that he wanted to demolish Subiaco Oval and build a new stadium so Perth can host soccer World Cup games in 2018 or 2022. He stated that this would involve a complete demolition of the old stadium and the building of an entirely new stadium on the site, and suggested this would likely cost well in excess of $450 million.
In June 2011 the premier announced the government’s decision to proceed with development of a new major stadium on the Burswood Peninsula, known as Perth Stadium, to have a minimum capacity of 60,000 seats and a maximum of 70,000 seats.
In June 2017 the State Labor Government announced plans to build a new high school at Kitchener Park next to Subiaco Oval with the playing surface of the grounds to be used as a recreational facility. Demolition of Subiaco Oval’s grandstands is expected to begin in 2019, ahead of a range of potential new developments around the existing playing surface. The proposed demolition includes retaining the Subiaco Oval Gates and the historic playing surface in its original dimensions, location and orientation.
Top 10 overall attendance records
Seven of the ground’s ten highest attendances were achieved at West Australian Football League grand finals:
Rank Attendance Event Date 1 65,000 Adele 28 February 2017 2 55,000 U2 18 December 2010 3 52,781 WAFL Grand Final 22 September 1979 4 52,322 WAFL Grand Final 27 September 1975 5 51,385 WAFL Grand Final 27 September 1969 6 50,975 WAFL Grand Final 2 October 1971 7 50,883 WAFL Grand Final 18 September 1982 8 50,517 WAFL Grand Final 3 October 1981 9 48,247 AC/DC 6 March 2010 10 47,760 WAFL Grand Final 17 September 1983
Top 10 AFL attendance records
No. Date Match Teams Crowd 1 8 September 1991 Qualifying final West Coast v. Hawthorn 44,142 2 14 September 2007 Semi final West Coast v. Collingwood 43,627 3 27 August 2006 Round 21 West Coast v. Fremantle 43,527 4 2 September 2005 Qualifying final West Coast v. Sydney 43,302 5 21 September 2013 Preliminary final Fremantle v. Sydney 43,249 6 16 September 2006 Semi final West Coast v. Western Bulldogs 43,219 7 9 September 2006 Qualifying final West Coast v. Sydney 43,116 8 5 August 2007 Round 18 West Coast v. Fremantle 43,096 9 26 September 2015 Preliminary final West Coast v. North Melbourne 43,080 10 27 August 2005 Round 22 West Coast v. Adelaide 43,044
Last updated on 26 Sep 2015
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