- Lloyd Rothwell
Allianz Stadium – Sydney Roosters
Photos by Lloyd Rothwell Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
Allianz Stadium Driver Avenue Moore Park, NSW 2021 Australia
Year Opened: 2022
Here Come The Roosters
The Sydney Roosters were established in 1908 and have always called Moore Park home. They are a foundation club of the NSW Rugby League that later morphed into the National Rugby League (NRL). The club was originally known as Eastern Suburbs (Easts), nicknamed the “Tri-Colours” after the red, white, and blue playing strip. After adopting the Roosters title in the 1960s, Easts first changed their name to “Sydney City” in 1994, before shortening that to simply “Sydney” in 2000. Despite this, the Roosters have always best been known for representing the exclusive eastern suburbs and is headquartered at Bondi.
The Roosters have a long and successful history, having won 15 premierships. The first rugby league superstar, Dally Messenger played for Easts, while players such as Russell Fairfax, Arthur Beetson, Bill Mullins, and John Peard featured in a 1970s team coached by the great Jack Gibson that is widely regarded as one of the best club teams assembled in history. The recruitment of head coach Phil Gould and Brad Fittler lead the club to four grand finals in five years in the early 2000s. In 2019 the Roosters became the first team to win back-to-back premierships in over 25 years.
The Sydney Roosters have always been headquartered in the Moore Park area playing at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds, the Sydney Sports Ground, and then the Sydney Football Stadium when it opened in 1988. The Roosters would call the SFS home until it was demolished in 2019. After spending the interim next door at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), the club celebrated the opening of the new SFS (Allianz Stadium) with a win over their bitter rivals South Sydney in 2022. The new stadium has a capacity of 42,500 and costs $828m. It is also home to the NSW Waratahs (Super Rugby) and Sydney FC (A-League) but is also expected to host finals, interstate games, and internationals in both rugby codes and soccer. Designed by renowned architecture firm Cox, Allianz Stadium is managed by Venues NSW, which operates a suite of major venues across Sydney, Newcastle, and Wollongong.
Food & Beverage 4
The food offerings at the old stadium were universally regarded as being sub-par; overpriced with little variety for discerning fans, and usually also accompanied by long queues. There are a whopping 64 outlets within the new stadium, with a much wider selection of food and beverages. The catering contract is held by Merivale, a well-known player in the hospitality scene.
Pleasingly, there is a range of different price points with basic staples including meat pies, hot chips, and hot dogs available for under $10. These are widely available at The Kiosk, along with burgers and fried chicken. Specialty outlets (and average prices) include El Loco (Mexican: $15-$20), Jimmy’s Falafel (Middle Eastern: $15-$20), Noodles and Dumplings (Chinese: $17-$18), Healthy Bowls (Poke: $18), and Vinnie’s Pizza (Italian: $15-$16 – we recommend the potato and rosemary pizza). The bars stock a range of mainstream, craft, and premium beers but expect to pay over $10 for any of the full-strength options. You’ll also find a variety of pre-mixed spirits and wine available. Soft drinks are around $5. There is less variety in the upper tiers so you might prefer to purchase your refreshments prior to ascending to your seat.
The new stadium is a huge improvement from the old SFS. First, the roof now covers all seating areas, meaning the majority (if not all) fans will remain dry when it rains. Second, the steep gradient and overall design of the stadium means most seats are situated between the try lines with excellent sight lines throughout. The seating bowl has four levels: lower tier, club tier, suite tier, and upper tier. The wrap-around design enhances the atmosphere by keeping crowd noise within the bowl. Visually, the seating design is very appealing. The combination of blues was designed by indigenous artist Tony Albert with abstract patterns representing land, water, and whale and goanna totems. Video screens are located at either end of the stadium, with LED signage throughout. The ability to customize lighting, complimentary Wi-Fi, light-up goal posts, and security monitoring enhancements are among the technological inclusions. The amenities are also vastly superior in the new stadium. Expect the usual promotions and music during breaks in play. Tag your social media photos for a chance to be displayed on video screens.
There are significant nods to history and past greats throughout. Rather than naming the grandstands after past players in the usual Australian tradition, there is instead a “Ring of Champions” lining the concourse around the stadium. The initial inductees are Nicholas Shehadie (Australian rugby captain, administrator, and former Sydney Lord Mayor), Betty Cuthbert (four-time Olympic track gold medalist), Johnny Warren (arguably the most significant figure in Australian soccer of all time), Arthur Beetson (Roosters great and the first indigenous person to captain an Australian national team in any sport), and Ron Coote (won a remarkable 6 premierships playing over 100 games for both Easts and South Sydney). Pleasingly, the list includes athletes from numerous different sports, recognizing the variety of elite sports which has occurred on the site over the years.
There is also scope to make additions to the “Ring” in the future. If you circumnavigate the exterior of the stadium before entering you will also notice several statues including those of Warren, Cuthbert, and compatriot Marlene Matthews (who set five world records at the Sydney Sports Ground), and Ken Catchpole (former Australian rugby captain and World Rugby Hall of Famer).
It’s important firstly to note the proximity of Allianz Stadium to the CBD and all that a global city such as Sydney has to offer Those visiting from out of town should allow several days at a minimum to tick off the major attractions such as the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and Bondi Beach. The closest restaurants and bars are in the Entertainment Quarter, which is on the southern side of the SCG, with the Bavarian Bier Café (Entertainment Quarter, 212 Bent St Moore Park) being a solid choice.
Heading east, you will find the suburbs of Paddington, Bondi, and Coogee – always popular with tourists and locals alike. A short distance north is Darlinghurst and Kings Cross; a more bohemian district, with “The Cross” being the red-light district. Also, close by is The Rocks, one of the first areas to be settled by the British when they arrived in 1788. If this is your destination then make sure The Hero of Waterloo (81 Lower Fort St, The Rocks) and Lord Nelson (19 Kent St, The Rocks) are on your list; they’re two of the oldest pubs in the country. Fans traveling to Sydney from interstate or overseas should check the AFL schedule as the Sydney Swans play next door at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Sydney Olympic Park.
The Roosters attract among the largest home crowds of any of the Sydney-based teams, in 2022 their average attendance is eclipsed only by Parramatta and is marginally ahead of the powerhouse Penrith club. Their biggest rivals are South Sydney, with whom they used to share the old Allianz Stadium before the Rabbitohs moved west to Olympic Park. Expect a close-to-capacity crowd for a Roosters vs Rabbitohs clash. Fans are knowledgeable and passionate. You’ll notice plenty of club merch on display, flags and banners in club colours, and regular chanting throughout.
One aspect that hasn’t dramatically changed with the new stadium is getting to the game. Allianz Stadium is located just south of the Sydney CBD. The closest heavy rail station is at Central, a 20-minute walk away, although be warned it is uphill most of the way and so is not recommended for less mobile fans. However, a new light rail line was opened in recent years with the L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford lines within easy walking distance of the precinct providing a good public transport option. Buses also operate in the vicinity.
If you are driving there are several options for parking including the parklands opposite the stadium, the Entertainment Quarter (enter via Lang Rd), and Sydney Boys / Girls High Schools (enter via Cleveland St), all of which will charge around $30. Traffic can be frustratingly slow within the vicinity of the stadium both before and after the game. Arrive early if possible – and catch the curtain raiser if there is one.
However, access within the building is vastly improved in the new stadium. The pedestrian entry from Driver Ave is via stairs or an elevator for those with additional mobility needs. There is at-grade access on the northern side via Moore Park Rd. Once inside wide-open concourses and escalators smooth movement throughout. When comparing the old to new, the number of seats for disabled spectators has increased from 27 (with no provision for companions) to 648. The number of male toilets has almost doubled. The number of female toilets has increased by an incredible 600%!
Return on Investment 4
Ticket prices can vary quite significantly depending on where you prefer to sit, however you can expect to pay around $60 for a reasonable reserved seat as an adult. There are discounts for children and families. While it is not a cheap experience, you can cut some corners with food and travel to make it more affordable. It should be noted that the pricing here is not dissimilar to most major venues and sporting events across Sydney and the country.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the new stadium is the way the stadium is situated on the parcel of land on which it stands. The old stadium was positioned awkwardly and always felt cramped and slightly off-kilter. Designers have envisaged the stadium as a community hub, with outdoor play areas and a basketball court on the eastern side of the stadium. Check out the fan activation activities and team store prior to entry.
Allianz Stadium has been designed to meet the sustainability standards to achieve LEED Gold accreditation. Initiatives include solar energy generation and water harvesting to improve efficiency benchmarks. The building uses a lightweight steel construction for the roof, which uses 40% less material than venues of a similar size. There are also electric vehicle charging points and bicycle parking available.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the decision by the state government to demolish and rebuild Allianz Stadium was a contentious one. Nevertheless, the new stadium undeniably offers a vastly superior fan experience. As one of the newest and most advanced stadiums in Australia, this one should be on your must-visit list.