Holloway Field – Brisbane Bandits
Photos by Meg Minard and Michael Risugnuolo, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
29 Market St
Newmarket, QLD 4051
Year Opened: 1964
Brisbane Baseball Basics
Baseball has surprisingly old roots in Brisbane, Australia. The game was never a major sport–even in sports-mad Australia–but it does have a sizeable club following. The amateur Windsor Royals baseball club were founded in the mid-fifties, and after a decade built a permanent home in 1964 with Holloway Field named after the team’s founder Stan Holloway.
Renovations in the 1980s added lights and automatic watering systems, as well as expanding the grounds from its more humble club roots. Prior to the arrival of the Australian Baseball League’s Brisbane Bandits in 2013, major upgrades included a new brick backstop and netting, new seats in the grandstands, and a refurbished infield and lighting towers. The new Holloway Field has 800 seats and can hold 1,600 fans for each game.
The Bandits have just rattled off three straight championships in their suburban home. And while that locale doesn’t leave a lot to recommend it, Holloway Field is solid overall ball field and a cozy, inexpensive place to catch a ballgame, with excellent food fare to fuel its fans.
Food & Beverage 4
Food selection can be a little limited at ABL parks, but Holloway Field provides above-average gastronomical options with a small food truck lawn in addition to the main food concession.
The Roaming Pig provides choice barbie eats (A$10), Fire’n’Dough has fresh-made pizza selections (A$10-A$12), Dan’s Dim Sum Kitchen has the Asian favorite with Aussie flair (3 for A$6), and Mr. America has flag-adorned gourmet hot dog and burger options (A$6-A$12). For more basic ballpark fare, the Royals Canteen at the top of the seats behind home plate has fresh-grilled hot dogs, burgers, and chicken sandwiches (A$6-A$9.50).
Australians love their beer, so you won’t be surprised to find a decent selection of local and international suds on tap and in cans from A$5-A$8, as well as wine and hard liquor for A$8-A$10. In a move to give the vapors to any American capitalist, Pepsi and Coke are both on offer, and water, soda, and sports drinks run from A$2.50-A$4.
Call me biased and old-fashioned, but I went for The Yankee (classic ballpark hot dog, A$7 at Mr. America) and compromised with a local Aussie brew. More adventurous folks might want to try the Hound Dog (A$9 at Mr. America), a corn dog on a bun, slathered with ketchup and mustard; or the Angus Burger Deluxe (A$10 at the Roaming Pig), a cheeseburger topped with pulled pork and coleslaw that would certainly be at home as a “dare eat” at any US minor league park.
(All prices are in Australian dollars, and at the time of writing, $1 US was worth about A$1.25.)
Holloway Field is an odd duck, reflecting its evolution over fifty-plus years from a club-team park to one of the six professional baseball parks in all of Australia. The only entrance is a chain link fence gate allowing patrons to enter by first base. Three sets of general admission stands (with solid molded plastic seats) rise up behind the home dugout on the third base side, mirrored by one stand behind the visiting third base dugout. The main grandstand behind home plate (with far comfier flip-down seats) is under partial cover, topped off with the press box, the main concession stand, and the club rooms.
Several luxury areas practically on the field are located next to the dugouts and on-deck areas, but they are only available to groups. Everything is connected by somewhat claustrophobic pathways that snake in front of all the seats. Looking out over the trees and buildings behind the outfield wall, you might miss the small, solar-powered scoreboard sitting in right center, putting out the barest of stats.
Mascot Buster Bandit doesn’t make an appearance at every game, but the MC and the promotions team keep the fans entertained between innings with giveaways and contests that would be familiar to anyone who has attended a minor league game in the United States.
In a nod to the developing baseball fandom in Australia, the on-field announcer often helpfully explains statistics as he announces them between innings and provides other didactic baseball information as part of his spiel. One thing you definitely won’t find in America is the post-game celebration, where fans can come onto the outfield grass and meet and talk with the players after the game, a nice community-building event (especially for younger fans) that will no doubt help the sport grow.
If you’re going to a Sunday afternoon game or double header, splurge for reserved seats to grab some shade from the punishing Australian summer sun. If you’re going to an evening game, the view of the field is intimate from anywhere in the park. A General Admission Seat are right up to the home or visitors’ dugout if you don’t mind a little backache from the solid plastic seats.
Since their move from the downtown Brisbane Showgrounds, the Bandits have played at Holloway Field, where a sprawling Newmarket suburb has filled in the area around the park over the last half century. This sleepy locale has a serious downside, as there is not much to do around the park before or after the game.
There isn’t a ton of non-chain food in Newmarket. Your best option for food is just to the west of the stadium at Newmarket Village mall. Many Australian and international chains can be found inside, but just to the north on Enoggera Road are two local ethnic restaurants (Indian Taste Buds and Pepe’s Mexican) that are your best shots for non-chains in the area. Of course, downtown Brisbane is chock full of options, but it is not near the park.
Similarly, there is nothing going on directly around Holloway Field. Outside of perusing the rest of the sports facilities and parkland along Breakfast Creek, you also have to head to the city center to find anything to occupy your time.
And not surprisingly, there also aren’t a lot of hotels in the area. The closest are two reasonably-priced B&Bs to the east (number 38 Wilston Village and the Swan Inn) and the Herston Place Motel. There are more options further east near the Bowen Hills Station, and obviously a plethora in the city center to the southeast.
Even in sports-obsessed Australia and with a professional league, baseball very much remains a fringe sport. The stadiums are in the American single-A range, and the attendance averages between 500-1,000 per game, about what you’d expect to see at the lowest level of professional ball in America.
Despite their recent successes on the field, the Bandits sit in the middle of the pack for attendance. That said, the field is intimate and scaled for the crowds they get, so it never feels empty.
As with most of the ABL, the crowd seems to be made up of local families, ex-pat baseball fans from America and Asia, and local baseball enthusiasts involved in club and youth teams. This curious mix, however, seems into the games and following the action on the field, especially with the extra hand holding from the on-field MC.
With baseball a fringe sport in Australia, most ballparks are far from downtown, and Holloway Field is no exception, located in the suburb of Newmarket to the northwest of the city center. It is, however, one of the closest and most convenient ABL parks to get to from their respective city centers.
Unlike some other ABL teams, transit offers an appealing way to get to the park. The Ferny Grove line from Central Station in Brisbane (A$3.25 peak/A$2.60 off-peak one way) will get you to Newmarket Station in under 15 minutes, and a further ten-minute walk from the station will have you at the gates of the suburban park. Alternatively, the 325 bus line (same fare) leaves from the Ann Street bus station, taking about 20 minutes to arrive at the same Newmarket Station. Driving will get you from downtown to the park in just under 15 minutes door-to-door, with taxis or Ubers running about A$15-A$20 one way.
Parking is free in lots near the park and along the street. Crowds aren’t much of an issue, and the cars pile in and out to the suburban roads with no great difficulty.
The main and only entrance to the park is along the path from the ticket booths just beyond a parking lot to the gate outside of first base. Crowds are small and convivial, so there are no problems getting in once the gates open about an hour before game time.
Some of the walking paths in the stadium can be a little tight, especially by home plate, but are generally only an issue before and after the game. Most food concessions are in a wide open area behind first base, so they don’t interfere with getting around, but lines at the limited bathrooms can be an issue.
Return on Investment 4
All tickets cost more at the gate, so call or click ahead if you can to save some money. The reserved area–behind home plate and covered–are A$20/A$30 (advanced/gate), while the General Admission seats along the baselines only run A$15/A$22, and standing-room seats are A$10/A$15.
Food and drink prices are eminently reasonable for Australia (A$6-A$10), parking is free, and the slim program runs A$2. It is a pretty cheap way to see a ballgame, with the talent about on-par with lower level, minor league prices in America.
Family prices are available for two adults and kids for each seating tier (A$70/A$100, A$40/A$60, and A$25/A$35) to encourage family attendance.
With the departure of direct MLB sponsorship of the league in 2017, the diversity of team merchandise has dried up across the league, with most just having jerseys and hats, and perhaps a t-shirt. The Bandits buck this trend slightly, with baseball cards and some small tchotchkes on sale in addition to the hats and jerseys.
The Bandits also have a little bit more flair, historical and otherwise, in the old park. Two large murals on either end of the main grandstand celebrate the Bandits and Windsor Royals. And most of the stands, as well as the club rooms, are named for Windsor Royals or other baseball luminaries from the area.
Despite its bland location, Holloway Field is a good park for a cheap night out eating and drinking at a ballgame.