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Qantas Credit Union Arena

Darling Harbour, NSW

Home of the Sydney Kings

3.4

N/A

Qantas Credit Union Arena (map it)
35 Harbour St
Darling Harbour, NSW 2000
Australia


Sydney Kings website

Qantas Credit Union Arena website

Year Opened: 1983

Capacity: 10,500

There are no tickets available at this time.

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The Kings of Sydney

The Qantas Credit Union Arena, formally known as the Sydney Entertainment Centre, opened in 1983 and has a capacity of 10,500 for basketball. The Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League (NBL) is the only regular tenant, although the arena is also used regularly for concerts and other sports. The volleyball events for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney were held here. The venue is located in Darling Harbour, an entertainment and recreation precinct on the western edge of Sydney’s CBD. Darling Harbour was previously an industrial zone used for shipping and the NSW Railways. The area was largely redeveloped throughout the 1980s to play a major role in Australia’s 1988 bicentennial celebrations. The arena also provided a much-needed sport and concert venue following the demolition in 1970 of the historic Sydney Stadium.

Basketball in Sydney has a chequered past. The Kings entered the NBL in 1988 as the result of a merger between the West Sydney Westars and Sydney Supersonics, and quickly built a reputation as habitual under-achievers. A period of great success eventually ensued in the 2000s, culminating with championships in 2003, 2004, and 2005. The club was bought by a fuel technology company in 2007, and then suddenly collapsed, with the Kings’ license revoked by the NBL in 2008. This left the Sydney market with only the West Sydney Razorbacks as the sole NBL franchise; however, after rebranding as the Sydney Spirit, they too folded after the 2008-09 season.

The Kings were subsequently reborn in 2010, after a restructuring process for the NBL. Since their re-admittance, the Kings have been steadily improving including a finals appearance in 2012-13. The Kings also made international headlines when they attempted to sign Australian NBA star Andrew Bogut, then with the Milwaukee Bucks, during the NBA lockout.

The New South Wales Government recently announced plans to demolish the Centre to make way for a large urban renewal project, including a brand-new Entertainment and Convention Centre. It is yet to be determined where the Kings will play during the demolition and construction phase. New management recently took over operating the venue which has seen it rebranded as Qantas Credit Union Arena. Though the Kings organisation often refer to their home court as “The Kingdome,” Sydneysiders have long since nicknamed the venue, the “Ent Cent”.

(Note: all prices listed are primarily in Australian dollars. The exchange rate to US dollars (US$) is current as of the date of this posting, February 2014.)

3.4

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    3

Food and beverage options are fairly typical; standard fare and expensive. Hot food includes hot chips ($5/US$4.50), wedges ($6/US$5.40), hot dogs ($5.50/US$5), pizza ($8/US$7.25), and fish and chips ($9/US$8.10). Healthier options such as salads ($6.50/US$5.90), sandwiches ($6.50/US$5.90), and wraps ($7.50/US$6.75) are also available. Confectionery and ice creams are on offer, with prices ranging from $3.50 (US$3.15) (individual chocolate bars) to $6 (US$5.40) for Maltesers and M&M's.

Qantas Credit Union Arena serves Coke variety soft drinks in 600ml bottles for $4.80 (US$4.30). Bottled water will set you back $4.50 (US$4). Alcoholic drinks are particularly pricey: Hahn Premium Light ($6.50/US$5.90), Toohey's New ($8/US$7.25), imported beers ($8.80/US$7.90), premixed spirits ($9.80/US$8.80) and wine ($7/US$6.30).

Most of the food appears pre-made, and thus suffers in quality, which is disappointing considering the items on offer are standard stadium options. The hot dog we bought was unfortunately not hot and the wedges were soggy. A lot of people still avail themselves of the F&B options onsite, although queues move orderly and quickly, and the service was good.

Considering the location of the venue, I'd strongly consider eating before a game rather than relying on the arena food.

Atmosphere    4

The atmosphere at a Kings game is enjoyable, family friendly and entertaining, only lacking that extra passion that you find in really top notch venues.

The arena presents well, despite its age. Seats are padded and comfortable with good sightlines regardless of your vantage point. The video scoreboard is easily visible and a real plus. It's a relatively large venue, but is only about half full; there was a crowd of over 4000 the night I attended. This isn't a huge problem other than aesthetically - one side at about centre court had a particularly noticeable number of empty seats.

The Kings recognise their past successes, with banners dominating one end of the arena. A number of players and staff have banners, described as "Kings Legends." These include Kings greats, such as Shane Heal (who also had a short NBA career, first with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and then with the San Antonio Spurs) and Steve Carfino (an American who played at the University of Iowa and was drafted by the Boston Celtics), as well as long-time administrator Bob Turner (now chairman of the Sydney Blue Sox baseball team) and Mike Wrublewski, the late former owner who also has a stand named after him.

There is additional entertainment provided by cheerleaders, the Kings Lion mascot and various crowd contests. The announcer is particularly good, encouraging the crowd at the right times without being over the top.

It was especially noticeable how many children were in attendance. The Kings are obviously doing well in their quest to rebuild their brand amongst the Sydney youth. The younger fans were also more likely to be sporting Kings merchandise.

Neighborhood    5

Darling Harbour is a major attraction for both Sydneysiders and tourists alike. Visitors to the Entertainment Centre are therefore blessed with an abundance of restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, and things to do. Sydney's sole casino, The Star, is close by, in addition to Harbourside Shopping Centre, the Australian Maritime Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, and Sydney Aquarium. A stroll along Cockle Bay Wharf will also lead you to trendy nightspots Pontoon Bar and Home Nightclub. Obviously, you are also in close proximity to the city's CBD with countless areas to explore, including the Rocks, Circular Quay, and Chinatown. Landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are also relatively close by.

Fans    4

It's pleasing to see fans reengaging with the Kings. They are attracting good crowd numbers, which is creating a positive and enjoyable atmosphere at the game. Those in attendance support their team well and participate in all the cheers as prompted by the announcer and the scoreboard. The game I attended became a little rough at times, which the crowd especially liked. While the Kings aren't as popular as they were in their heyday, and certainly aren't competing with the A-League and Big Bash, they are doing well in a crowded marketplace.

Access    2

Qantas Credit Union Arena is located in the heart of Sydney with access via car or public transport. Darling Harbour is adjacent to the Western Distributor (A4), making driving relatively easy, although given its location traffic, can be an issue. Parking is not cheap; however, there are a number of options close by. Be aware that the parking station immediately adjacent to the venue has long queues both to pay and exit following the game. At around $25 (US$22.50) to park, this option is not recommended. If driving, I'd try the Darling Quarter car park (1-11 Harbour St), which has cheaper rates based on the time of day you enter and exit and is only a short walk away. Also, keep in mind if you're driving that many of the major roads leading into Sydney have tolls. You're likely to pay more on tolls and parking than you will for the game.

If you don't wish to drive, a train to Central Station and then light rail to Haymarket is probably your best option. Darling Harbour was previously accessible via Sydney's Monorail; however, this was decommissioned in mid-2013.

Once inside, the venue is nice and easy to navigate. While ushers do check tickets upon entry, it is easy to move around to different seating areas once the game is well underway.

Return on Investment    3

Tickets for adults range from $15-$65 (US$13.50-US$58.75) for premium and reserved seating, with general admission priced at $12-$15 (US$10.80-US$13.50). The arena is basically a big "U" shape with several tiers of seating. While the price of admission represents good value, it's difficult to look past the cost of driving and parking, despite the quality of entertainment both inside and outside the venue.

Extras    3

Of particular note is the Sydney Kings organisation's partnership with the Heart Foundation. Not only are the Kings active in fundraising, but the "Jump Rope for Heart" theme is very active in the entertainment and is particularly impressive. The Kings also receive credit for celebrating their 25th anniversary team and their general commitment to their history.

Final Thoughts

Now that the NBL and Kings have re-established themselves, it will be interesting to see whether they can take the next step up. In the meantime, the Kings are worth a visit, but try to avoid the parking hassles.

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