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Official Review by James Rose, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Etihad Stadium has previously been known by several other names such as Telstra Dome and Colonial Stadium. In some ways it is one of the better grounds in the world and in others it really lets itself down.
The ground is the only "Aussie Rules" venue with an electronic roof which can be opened and closed as required, which has a great echoing effect when the ground is close to its full capacity of 56,347 people.
The food experience at Etihad leaves a lot to be desired, unless you are in a corporate suite, but that is one of the only things that hold the stadium back.
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".
I'm not sure what the standards of food are like in American stadiums, but at Etihad Stadium be prepared for your wallet to be considerably lighter. Even the humble meat pie is going to cost you if you're feeding your family.
I will say though the amount of areas to purchase your food and drink does improve the experience as it reduces the waiting time, which is a good thing as the service is generally slow.
I have been to most of the grounds in Australia, and I find Etihad compares favourably as long as it is over 75% capacity, in that situation I believe the atmosphere is great and second only to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
If you are dealing with a smaller crowd however the atmosphere drops to just average.
Docklands is meant to be the next big thing. It's easy to get to, has plenty of restaurants, clubs, pubs, a great view and it's close to the city. The problem is people don't really go there unless they are going to an event at Etihad.
This means the vibe you get off the area is dependant once again on the number of people at the event you attend.
Football is massive in Australia and the fans turn up regardless of how their team is travelling. This review is based on a St Kilda Saints home game. Their fans are loyal and loud but they are critical to their own team and umpires which gets a little tiresome.
The important thing is they turn up, make noise and are wearing their team's colours at every home contest.
Parking at Etihad is silly unless you know of a couple hidden spots or you are prepared to part with over $20. The positive here though is one of the major train stations (Southern Cross) is right at the door step of the ground.
Overall ground access is good but they lose points for the price of parking.
This varies at Etihad. If you bring your own food, catch the train and sit in general admission you get great return on investment but if you drive in, buy premium seats and purchase your food then you're at best going to consider your return to be average.
Corporate boxes are a highlight at Etihad and if you're looking to impress business partners I'd definitely look into this option as it is always a good experience. The service is good, as is the food and you still feel a part of the atmosphere when at an AFL clash.
Etihad is one of my favourite AFL venues but there is the odd niggling issue that lets it down. Most of these things are the price of anything other than your ticket.
*For more of James' journeys through the AFL, visit Contested Footy.
*Photograph courtesy of Invincible
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