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Official Review by Lloyd Rothwell, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
First established in 1871, the Adelaide Oval has long been known as one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. Pleasantly placed on the banks of the River Torrens in the parklands just north of the CBD, the stadium features stunning vistas, including the iconic St Peter's Cathedral, located immediately north of the oval. Mostly used for cricket during its long history, Adelaide Oval also has a strong connection with Australian Rules football. In addition, the venue has also hosted many top level rugby union competitions, as well as two matches of the 2003 World Rugby Cup, and was the previous home of the Australian leg of the World Sevens Series.
Despite growing demand for tickets to popular events (such as Ashes test matches), increasing capacity and redeveloping the ground took many years. In 2003, the Chappell Stands were added to the eastern side of the ground in front of the Victor Richardson Gates, named for the grandfather of the three Chappell brothers, all of whom played cricket for Australia. It took until 2009 before plans for a major redevelopment were announced; that redevelopment finished in 2014 at a cost of over $500m, and increased capacity to 53,583.
The final design maintains the charm of the original ground by incorporating the famous old scoreboard, hill area, Moreton Bay fig trees, and view of the cathedral, while also quickly building a reputation as a modern gem. Interestingly, the playing surface was also slightly modified; as a cricket ground Adelaide was known for its long straight boundaries, and short boundaries square of the wicket. The changes made to the ground make it more suitable for AFL, and along with the modern amenities and larger capacity, brought football back to the stadium fulltime, with both the Adelaide Crows and the Port Adelaide Power now calling Adelaide Oval home.
The Adelaide Strikers, like all the other Big Bash League Twenty20 cricket franchises, was formed in 2011 as a new identity separate from existing state teams. They have since experienced moderate success on the field, and are extremely well supported in their home state of South Australia.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The design of the new stadium means that no seat is located more than 40m from a food outlet, and there's a wide range of food available with all the usual fare, supplemented by healthy options and specialty items.
Interestingly, as of the end of 2016, the stadium management authority had worked to lower prices of many of the most commonly bought items, including meat pies, beer, and bottled water. One of the biggest reductions was a $0.30 drop in the price of local beer, West End Draught. While this may be a step in the right direction, it is worth noting that this "reduced price" is still $8.90, which makes it one of the most expensive beer prices in all of Australia. Similarly, even the most basic hot foods, such as meat pies and hot chips, are $5.50, and anything more (like burgers or pizza) is around the $10 mark. Admittedly, the serving sizes are quite good, as is the quality, but the indisputable fact is that prices here are more expensive than what you will experience at most sporting stadiums around the world.
On the plus side, the queues move relatively quickly, except for the Norgen Vaas ice cream stand, which can have wait times of over 5 minutes between placing an order and receiving your ice cream. Also, keep an eye out for concessions stands that are card only; helpful for some but not for others!
Adelaide Oval is the greatest success story of modern stadium building in all of Australia. It's a beautiful and well-designed building that captures all the charm and character of the original ground and its stunning surrounds, but adds an advanced, modern viewing experience; the combination is simply stunning. Over 75% of all seats are covered, providing protection from the elements, and the old scoreboard combines with three video screens to keep spectators informed. In addition, the spacious atriums within the stadium concourses add to the sense of space and atmosphere.
In contrast to most other capital cities around the country, Adelaide was established as a colony of free settlers rather than as a penal settlement. Now a cosmopolitan city characterised by its grid-like set up, featuring straight wide streets and abundant parklands, Adelaide is regularly cited as one of the most livable cities in Australia. The city is well known for its many festivals, and its close proximity to the wine growing region of Barossa Valley.
The northern area of the CBD is the heart of the city. Major venues such as the Convention Centre and Casino are on North Terrace, while Hindley Street and Rundle Mall serve as an entertainment and shopping precinct. Further afield, a tram ride down to the beach at Glenelg is a popular tourist activity.
The Adelaide Strikers are the highest drawing of all the BBL teams, most recently averaging a remarkable 42,000 fans per game. The crowd is a sea of blue, with the locals wholeheartedly embracing their team. The fans are well-informed and engaged in the brand and the action. See the video below to hear the fans:
Along with the redevelopment of the stadium, the new Riverbank Footbridge provides an easy connection across the river from the CBD. That being the case, the best method of transport is bus, train, or tram, after which you can soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the view as you stroll towards the stadium. Alternatively, you can drive into the CBD and utilise a paid parking station for around $25.
The plaza surrounding the stadium is easy to navigate, with several interactive fan experience opportunities, and the concourses inside are spacious and clean. Access to upper levels is made easier by a number of escalators and elevators, and Adelaide Oval also has an abundance of restrooms, with Australian design standards exceeded by more than 30%.
Ticket prices offer value for money, with adult general admission from as low as $20. The usual discounts for children and families also apply, making entry for most very affordable. While refreshments are amongst the most expensive you will ever encounter, seeing the Strikers at Adelaide Oval is undeniably a fantastic experience, and worthy of your hard-earned cash.
In the Riverbank Stand you will find a museum showcasing Sir Donald Bradman; to the uninitiated, Bradman is without question the greatest cricketer of all time. Indeed, statisticians have calculated that the dominance asserted by Bradman, with his test batting average of 99.94, is more significant than any other comparative sportsperson across all sports.
One of the more unique experiences at Adelaide Oval is the Roof Climb, a two hour guided climb across the roof of the stadium, even during games! There are also guided tours of the stadium, which are not available on event days, but are available at other times, and are well worth the effort; be sure to book in advance.
Given that the BBL occurs across the Christmas / New Year period, it is natural that a number of games will take place on key dates. The Strikers host the New Year's Eve game at Adelaide Oval, after which you can celebrate by watching the fireworks on the banks of the river, before heading back into the city to party on.
The Adelaide Oval is simply a must-visit stadium. Do yourself a favour and visit the City of Churches!
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