Photos by Lloyd Rothwell, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
BlueBet Stadium Mulgoa Rd Penrith, NSW 2750 Australia
Year Opened: 1967 Capacity: 22,500
Penrith Panthers at BlueBet
The Penrith Panthers were admitted to what is now known as the National Rugby League in 1967 however didn’t experience real success until the late 1980s and early 1990s. The club won its maiden premiership in 1991. Penrith won their second title in 2003. After experiencing some lean years more recently, the club is once again challenging for premiership success in the early 2020s.
The Panthers represent a working-class area located on the western edge of the Sydney metropolitan area at the foot of the Blue Mountains. BlueBet Stadium opened the same year Penrith entered the competition and currently has a capacity of 22,500. The stadium is owned by Penrith City Council, with the Panthers being the sole major tenant. A smattering of high-level soccer and international rugby league matches have also been held here.
Food & Beverage 3
Most visitors will enter the stadium via the western entrances. The forecourt immediately beyond the turnstiles is the best place to purchase your refreshments. There’s a reasonable selection of food items which cater to most tastes. The West Bar is also close by, however, expect to spend some time in the queue to purchase your drinks.
Food outlets around the stadium offer the standard fare: burgers, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, hot chips, and soft drinks. Expect to pay between $10-$15 for a decent feed and a further $5 for a drink. Other vendors within the forecourt offer wares such as pizza and “toasties.”
The bar offers several types of beer: Iron Jack, Toohey’s New, Hahn Super Dry, and Hahn Premium Light. Prices are around $8, with a $1 discount for members. Premixed spirits and wine are also available.
The grandstands are reserved seating, but much of the ground-level seating is designated as general admission. Be aware that the northern hill is largely a family area, which means no alcohol. This is enforced by security. Ushers guard the reserved seating areas. The southern hill has minimal elevation so large numbers of fans stand in this area. Plenty of families bring chairs and blankets which is a good idea. The eastern stand receives the afternoon sun.
The branding and signage around the ground leave you in doubt that this is Penrith territory. The façade of the western stand features banners of the current team. The top of the eastern stand is adorned with the names of club legends such as Craig Gower and Greg Alexander.
Penrith is a major centre of Western Sydney, with the local area being one of the most populous in the state. The Penrith Panthers Leagues Club is one of the largest registered clubs in NSW. It is the closest and most attractive option for entertainment close to the stadium. There are numerous food options including burgers, pizza, seafood, steak, noodles, and more. Other activities that might be of interest are a driving range where you hit a lake and a cable wakeboarding water park.
In the same area across the road are an indoor skydiving centre and several chain restaurants including McDonald’s and Outback Steakhouse. Pubs close by including the Australian Arms, one of the oldest pubs in the district. There’s also plenty of pubs closer to the CBD and a Westfield Shopping Centre.
Some sporting and recreation facilities are nearby. The Nepean River is one of the major geographical features of the area, along with Penrith Lake which includes both the Sydney International Regatta Centre and Penrith Whitewater Stadium, both venues built for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics. The Penrith Emus Shute Shield rugby club plays at Nepean Rugby Park and the Penrith Paceway next door has harness racing on Thursday nights.
The world heritage-listed Blue Mountains are also easily accessible from Penrith, by either rail or road. The Mountains effectively mark the western edge of the Sydney metropolitan area and form part of the Great Dividing Range, which extends almost the length of the continent from north to south. Many of the historic towns are worth visiting including Leura, Wentworth Falls, and the major towns of Katoomba and Lithgow.
The natural beauty of the area is well worth a visit, including “The Three Sisters” rock formation and Jenolan Caves. There’s plenty of opportunities for bushwalking and outdoor adventuring but be sure to prepare properly and take appropriate precautions. In summary, there’s plenty to do in the local area but in Western Sydney cars are king – so be prepared to drive anywhere outside of the precinct across Mulgoa Rd.
Forming part of the Panthers precinct just across the road, the Mercure Penrith is the obvious choice for accommodation and a short walk from the stadium.
Penrith is a working-class area. The locals are proud of their town and their football team. Crowds have once again increased as the Panthers have begun to experience more success on the field. The COVID impacted the 2020 season aside, average attendance in recent years is around 14,000 which is certainly enough to create an exciting and dynamic atmosphere. The Panthers have healthy rivalries with other western Sydney teams, with the biggest arguably being the Parramatta Eels.
While the stadium is accessible by public transport, the majority of fans drive. Expect some congestion around local roads as game time nears. Visitors traveling from other areas of Sydney will arrive via the Mulgoa Rd exit from the M4 Western Motorway. There is limited free parking within the Panthers complex, but this can fill quite quickly. There are also relatively cheap paid parking options at the Paceway on the northern side of the stadium (Ransley St) and the cricket club on the southern side (Station St) which will run you about $5. The nearest railway station is 10 mins walk from the stadium.
There is a box office just outside the entry but it’s just as easy to buy online and either print them at home or have the link sent to your phone. Fans tend to mill about outside the entrance waiting for friends or family. There’s a bag check at the entrance, but overall, there are no difficulties or hassles when entering.
The concourse is quite easy to navigate, although it’s a little congested at the southern end. Generally, there are no issues with moving around the various areas should you like to move around during the game. The bathrooms are a bit old but serviceable.
Return on Investment 4
Adult tickets range from $35 general admission through to $60 for the most expensive “Diamond” reserved seats. Children from the age of 2 require a ticket regardless of where they sit. Family passes that admit 4 people are a reasonable value when compared to single tickets. Food and beverage prices are reasonable compared to other NRL venues and cheap parking is welcomed.
Penrith has capitalised on their name with a “Pink Panther” theme and wears pink jerseys for the annual Women in League round.
The Panthers are once again one of the hottest tickets in town with a team to rival any other club in the NRL. Penrith is also a gateway to exploring the beautiful Blue Mountains and beyond, and thus should be a destination for all visitors to this part of the world.