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Leichhardt Oval

Lilyfield, NSW

Home of the Sydney Stars

2.9

N/A

Leichhardt Oval (map it)
Mary St
Lilyfield, NSW 2040
Australia


Sydney Stars website

Leichhardt Oval website

Year Opened: 1934

Capacity: 22,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Stars of Sydney

Leichhardt Oval has a capacity of 22,000 and opened in 1934. It is best known as the home to the Balmain Tigers rugby league club. The Tigers merged with Western Suburbs in 2000 to become the Wests Tigers who now compete in the NRL. The joint venture plays their home games at a number of different venues across Sydney, still returning to Leichhardt in the inner-west several times a year.

The Sydney Stars are one of three Sydney franchises competing in the new National Rugby Championship (NRC) along with the Greater Sydney Rams and North Harbour Rays, providing a third tier of professional rugby in Australia. The Stars are a joint venture between Sydney grade rugby powerhouse, Sydney University, and suburban club, Balmain.

Sydney University are the oldest and most successful rugby club in Australia. Despite a lean patch through the 1980s and early 1990s, including a stint in the Sydney 2nd Division, Uni has rebounded to once again become the dominant force in Australian club rugby. The original incarnation of Balmain was also formed in the 19th century. After a merger with Glebe they eventually changed their name to Drummoyne. However, Balmain has re-emerged in their own right in recent years as one of the stronger NSW “Subbies” clubs. Both clubs are well known for being ambitious and hungry for success.

2.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    2

There are two points at Leichhardt Oval to make your purchases; a van in the south western corner between the Keith Barnes Stand and the Latchem Robinson Stand, and a van at the back of the hill. Only the basics are available here. Hot dogs and pies are $5, with fish and chips going for $8. Chicken schnitzel rolls are $8 and sandwiches cost $7. Soft drinks are provided by Schweppes, with a price tag of $4. Cans of beer (VB) are also available.

Atmosphere    3

Leichhardt Oval is situated within Leichhardt Park on the foreshore of Iron Cove, a bay on Sydney Harbour/Parramatta River away from the nearby hustle and bustle of busy Sydney. The number two oval and an aquatic centre lie between the main ground and the water itself, but if you walk the long way around to the entry gates you will be treated to some nice views.

Once inside the venue, there are two grandstands; the Latchem Robinson Stand and the Keith Barnes Stand, both of which are named after former Balmain Tigers rugby league players. As the Robinson Stand is on the western side of the oval, it is completely in the shade - and therefore quite cool at this time of year. It is also the only section of the ground that is remotely modern. The Keith Barnes Stand is awkwardly placed off centre at the southern end of the ground, but at over 100 years old is an important reminder of the heritage of this facility. In a quirk of history, the stand was built in 1913 with the playing field running east-west at the time. The ground was officially opened as the Tigers home ground in 1934. The grandstand named after Barnes in 2009.

Old Balmain Tigers fans are passionate supporters of Leichhardt and the occasional Wests Tigers games still staged here always records crowd numbers close to capacity. This ground is really a throwback to a different era when footy was enjoyed on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon on the hill at the various suburban grounds around Sydney.

The hill on the eastern side of the ground is huge, and plenty of fans enjoy the sun and open spaces. Families with children will love this area as the kids are free to roam and play as they wish. There is an old school scoreboard at the back of the hill. This part of Sydney is under the flight path for Sydney Airport so planes regularly fly overhead on their final approach. The line markings on the playing surface for rugby league are still visible and the in goal area is quite small for rugby union, although this doesn't detract much from the experience.

The PA system is dated meaning the sound quality is not great and the repetitive mentioning of sponsors is a bit much.

Neighborhood    4

Leichhardt Oval is actually located in Lilyfield, but Leichhardt itself and the surrounding suburbs of Balmain and Annandale is a hub of restaurants, cafes and pubs. Leichhardt particularly is known for its Italian restaurants. Norton Street is the obvious place to head, as you can take your pick of any number of quality eateries.

The Annandale Hotel has a storied place in Australian music history and is a great choice for drinks and entertainment. In the opposite direction lie Rozelle and Balmain. If you head down to Darling Street you will find a plethora of quality restaurants, bars, and pubs.

Fans    2

Around 1,000 fans attended the game we saw. Of that number, many were families happy to watch some rugby on a stunning Sydney spring day. Overall the crowd is pretty laidback and casual. There are a few Stars caps floating around, but not much that really distinguishes the experience. Given the background of the Stars entity with such close links to Sydney University RFC it seems a little more difficult to sell the Stars brand to the community.

Access    3

One of the big drawbacks for holding top level NRL at Leichhardt Oval is a complete lack of parking. However for the Sydney Stars in the NRC this is a non-issue due to small crowd numbers. There's plenty of parking on the western side of the oval, across the road from the entrance. Additionally there is more than enough parking in the surrounding streets to make driving an easy option.

If you're after public transport buses are probably your best option. The inner-west is serviced by trains and ferries but realistically require a bus connection anyway.

There are bathrooms under the main stand which are large but old. If you're on the hill there are demountables which are a little cramped.

Return on Investment    4

The Stars offer general admission at $15 for adults or undercover grandstand seating at $25 for adults. There are discounts for students, and children 12 and under are free.

In an entrepreneurial move, the Stars have also made available corporate box seating which include catering provisions and interaction with players and the coaching staff.

As the Robinson Stand is on the western side of the ground, it is shaded and therefore can be quite cool. There also doesn't appear to be anyone checking tickets to enter the stand so I'd recommend purchasing a GA ticket and enjoying the sun on the hill, which is where most of the crowd congregates anyway.

At this price point you will enjoy a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon of reasonable quality rugby, in a pleasant location, with limited additional costs to taint your experience.

Extras    2

An extra point each is awarded for the free team sheets and the merchandise stand.

Final Thoughts

Leichhardt Oval is a venue worth visiting for a relaxing and pleasant match day atmosphere. Hopefully the Stars will continue to build their identity which will only add to the experience.

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