- Lloyd Rothwell
Suncorp Stadium – Brisbane Broncos
Photos by Lloyd Rothwell, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Suncorp Stadium 40 Castlemaine St Milton QLD 4064 Australia
Year Opened: 1914
Bronx Nation at the Cauldron
Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane is arguably one of the best football-only stadiums worldwide. Better known as Lang Park, the venue opened in 1914 on the site of a former cemetery, but didn’t become the home of rugby league in Queensland until the 1950s. The stadium gained traction in Australian sporting folklore with the rise of the State of Origin concept which began in 1980, a three-game series between NSW and QLD that has evolved into the premiere event on the annual rugby league calendar. Lang Park was nicknamed “The Cauldron,” and was renowned for local fans euphemistically described as boisterous and parochial.
A substantial redevelopment was completed in 2003, resulting in a 52,500 seater where 75% are covered within the drip line – the works have seen Suncorp Stadium regularly mentioned as the best rectangular stadium in Australia. The Queensland Reds Super Rugby franchise and the Brisbane Roar A-League club both relocated to the stadium, testament to the high standard of spectator facilities. Internationals across all three codes, as well as high-profile concerts, also regularly take place at Suncorp.
The Brisbane Broncos joined what is now the National Rugby League (NRL) as an expansion team in 1988, along with a Gold Coast Tweed club and the Newcastle Knights. They’ve quickly become a powerhouse, having won six premierships. They are also one of the largest and highly valued football clubs in the country, and hold the distinction of being the only publically owned club in Australia.
Food & Beverage 4
Suncorp Stadium is well stocked with many outlets on all levels of the seating bowl, including a Red Rooster branded outlet. There may not be any specialty items, but all the regular offerings are available. Like most sporting venues around the world, the monopolistic nature of concessions leads to high prices – expect to pay up to $10 for a single hot food item such as a burger, while a humble Four ’n’ Twenty pie is around $5.
One notable point to be made where Suncorp deviates from the norm is that there are a higher than usual number of healthy choices, including sushi, gourmet salads, and yoghurt. There’s also a small selection of alcoholic drinks, including four different beers. Be aware that if it is your shout at the bar, then as seems to be usual these days a carry tray will cost you an extra dollar. Nevertheless, I am otherwise well satisfied by the food choices, as well as by the service and availability. There used to be a full list of items and prices on the stadium website, but unfortunately this seems to have been removed.
The redeveloped Suncorp Stadium compares well to any major football stadium around the world. The stadium design puts the crowd on top of the action, creating an intimate atmosphere while maximising fan engagement and noise. The seating bowl has three levels, all of which provide great views. Even without a capacity attendance, the crowd noise is still high.
If possible, circumnavigate the exterior of the stadium prior to entry to ensure you pass through the northern plaza to see statues of Queensland greats Wally Lewis (“The King”), Arthur Beetson, Mal Meninga, and Darren Lockyer, as well as plaques in the concourse listing all QLD State of Origin players and their numbers. There are also video screens at either end, however, I find them just a touch too small and also think they are placed a little low for those sitting in the nosebleed seats. Despite this, the stadium is a great experience.
The nearby Caxton St is packed with restaurants, bars, and cafés, making it the ideal route if you’re walking in from the east. However, my number one choice in the vicinity is actually on the opposite side of Suncorp Stadium. By all means check out the aforementioned strip, but definitely check out the XXXX Alehouse (Corner Black and Paton Streets, Milton). The entrance is a little difficult to spot, as the building appears to face Milton Rd, but the public entrance is down the side and up the stairs – the pub itself is open plan with a balcony and has a good choice of bar food.
Brisbane itself is a beautiful city to visit, and in the winter months provides a warmer climate than the chilly southeast corner of the continent. A couple of quick suggestions include South Bank, Queen St Mall, and the Storey Bridge Climb.
Queenslanders in general are proud and committed supporters – the Broncos have the largest supporter base of any NRL club, and have an average home crowd of over 30,000. Not only that, the design of the stadium maximises the noise and cheering of the fans. Maroon and yellow are everywhere, and there are numerous Broncos banners throughout the city, reminding visitors that all of the city is behind their team.
Suncorp Stadium has no specific parking in the vicinity, but public transport by bus and train is well organised, making travel to the venue largely hassle-free; Milton and Roma St are the two nearest train stations, with Milton being the closer of the two. There are commercial parking lots in surrounding suburbs which are located within walking distance if you must drive, but there are no clear directions to rideshare pickups.
The concourses inside the stadium cater well to the large crowds, and even when busy don’t feel too crowded; bathrooms are spacious and in good condition. The only possible complaint in this area is the number of stairs to climb in order to reach the higher levels. However, ushers are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
Return on Investment 4
No doubt the fan experience here is top shelf, but you will definitely pay for the privilege. Expect to pay $50 or more just to get through the gates, with the best seats over $100. In most cases public transport will be included in the price of your ticket, but best to check. The cost does detract from the overall score, but regardless of the cost, this is still one of Australia’s top sporting destinations.
There is a large stadium store located on the northern plaza, which is also open on weekdays. Stadium tours are available, but must be pre-booked and are only held on Thursdays – there is an option to book a combined stadium and XXXX Brewery tour which is a great idea. As well as the Queensland greats statues, there are also a number of fan activation opportunities outside Suncorp Stadium.
The Brisbane Broncos are one of the most successful sporting teams in Australia, and Suncorp Stadium is one of the best venues in the land – visiting is a must.