Sydney Cricket Ground – Sydney Sixers
Photos by Lloyd Rothwell, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Sydney Cricket Ground Driver Ave Moore Park, NSW 2021 Australia
Year Opened: 1848
Smash ’em Sixers
The world-famous Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) at Moore Park, just south of the Sydney CBD, is one of the oldest sports stadiums still in use in Australia. The land on which the SCG sits was granted to the British Army in 1846 and was originally known as the Garrison Ground, in reference to the troops stationed at the nearby Victoria Barracks who recreated there. The New South Wales Cricket Association began regular use of the ground in the 1870s and the state government commenced work to upgrade the facility. The first cricket test at the SCG was played in 1882 between Australia and England. One of the most charming aspects of the SCG, is the seamless integration of the old and the new; the beautiful old Members Pavilion and Ladies Stand were erected in 1886 and 1896 respectively, while the newly re-built M.A. Noble and Don Bradman Stands at the northern end of the ground boast all the creature comforts modern sports fans desire. Capacity is approximately 48,000.
While best known as a cricket venue, the SCG was the premiere venue for all major team sports in NSW until the 1980s. Major rugby league and rugby union matches were played here until the Sydney Football Stadium opened next door in 1988. Later known as Allianz Stadium, the SFS has since been demolished and is in the process of being rebuilt, with an opening date of late 2022. Permanent tenants the Sydney Roosters of the NRL are playing home games at the SCG, but the NSW Waratahs and Sydney FC have chosen to relocate most matches elsewhere. The SCG was the main stadium when Sydney hosted the Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games) in 1938. The major cricket stadiums around Australia also double as AFL venues; the SCG has been home to the Sydney Swans who relocated north from South Melbourne in 1982. Readers from North America may recall the opening series of the 2014 MLB season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks was staged here.
The Sydney Sixers are one of two franchises formed in the harbour city to compete in Cricket Australia’s Twenty20 tournament, the Big Bash League (BBL) in 2011. The Sixers are owned by Cricket NSW and represent the coastal suburbs and inner city, while their cross-town rivals, the Sydney Thunder, are based in the western suburbs. The Sixers are the second most successful club in BBL history, having won championships in 2011/12, 2019/20, and 2020/21. The franchise also has a highly successful WBBL team who have previously played at the SCG, however less so during the pandemic.
Note that when in enclosed / indoor areas patrons may be required to wear a mask due to public health requirements.
Food & Beverage 3
As of December 2021, well-known hospitality group Merivale have taken over the catering contract at the SCG. However, as with previous providers, some premium items are available only within the member’s reserve in the MA Noble / Bradman Stand. Staples such as meat pies, hot chips, and hot dogs are readily available for between $5-$8, with burgers around $14. Healthy bowl choices (Kale, grilled chicken miso and lime grilled chicken) are $16. Other outlets include Vinnie’s Pizza, Jimmy’s Falafel, and Queen Chow Dumplings and Noodles, and the Chicken Shop. Alcoholic drinks range from $9 to $16. As with many sports venues around Australia now, most of the ground does not have access to full-strength (alcohol percentage) beer.
Cricket grounds have traditionally been developed as a series of separate grandstands circling the playing field, rather than a continuous seating bowl, giving fans a series of different experiences depending on where they choose to sit. Apart from the heritage-listed Members Pavilion and Ladies Stand (accessible only by SCG Trust Members and their guests), the ground has been redeveloped piece by piece over the years. The Bill O’Reilly Stand on the eastern side of the ground, and the Brewongle / Clive Churchill Stands in the southwestern corner, were opened during the 1980s. In more recent times, the Victor Trumper Stand was completed in 2008. The latest project saw the M.A. Noble, Don Bradman, and Dally Messenger Stands completely re-built. Naming each stand after great players of days gone by is a wonderful tradition.
While it may be the newest form of cricket, the Sixers fit seamlessly with the SCG. Arrive a few hours early and you will find plenty to do outside the stadium along Driver Ave, which is closed to traffic on game days. Enjoy the various fan engagement opportunities and check out the merchandise van – the Sixers predominant colour is magenta, which matches their trendy and flashy identity. Twenty20 cricket is fast and entertaining; expect music and chants between each ball and the usual dance-offs projected onto the big screen. While younger generations will love the continuous assault on the senses, older people should note that conversations with people around you will be difficult due to the constant barrage of noise.
The SCG is only minutes from central Sydney and all that a global city offers. Sydney is centred around the water and if you’re visiting from out of town be sure to check out the world-famous harbour and beaches – a ferry trip from Circular Quay in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Manly Beach should be mandatory. 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. In recent years EQ has also hosted a pop-up water park during the summer holidays.
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 the Lord Nelson (19 Kent St, The Rocks) are on your list; they’re two of the oldest pubs in the country.
As a large city, Sydney also provides many opportunities to see a range of sports while you’re here including soccer (Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers), baseball (Sydney Blue Sox), and basketball (Sydney Kings and Sydney Uni Flames). Of course, cricket fans will likely want to also see the Sydney Thunder at Spotless Stadium.
In recent years the BBL has increased the number of games to encompass a full home and away season. While this may have been a good commercial decision with broadcasting in mind, many now believe there is an oversupply of games. This is reflected in a decline in crowds, as the BBL is now viewed as ubiquitous rather than a series of limited events. Crowds now average between 10,000-12,000. The exception is the “Sydney Smash”, where the Sixers take on their cross-town rivals, Sydney Thunder. The target market is families – and BBL is unashamedly perfect for this audience. Fans are friendly and supportive of their team. The BBL is universally a great product for a fun and safe environment.
The SCG is located just south of the Sydney CBD, making it relatively accessible. The Moore Park precinct is serviced by buses and light rail. The closest train station is Central which is a 20-minute walk away, however, this is largely uphill on your way to the ground. Sydney’s newest light rail line opened in 2020 and now links Central with Moore Park providing an affordable and quick transfer.
Access by public car to the Moore Park area often includes flirting with gridlocked traffic as you get closer to the area. Thankfully much of the BBL season coincides with school holidays, meaning the traffic is mostly bearable. Parking is available in the parklands opposite for $30, with payment only accepted by card – no cash.
As with many other sports and entertainment venues, there are security checks prior to entry including bag checks. It’s also worth remembering you’re not able to circumnavigate the stadium as you’re restricted to the area in which you’re seated. Given the smaller crowds mentioned above, the upper decks in each grandstand are closed.
Return on Investment 4
General admission tickets represent good value; $20 for an adult, and $5 for children, make this a very affordable family night out. However, reserved seating is as much as $65 for adults. Be sure to pre-purchase, if possible, otherwise you’ll be charged extra at the gate. While parking and food are expensive, the overall experience is well-priced. If you do decide on general admission tickets, aim to arrive early to claim the best seats.
There are numerous additional historical aspects to the Sydney Cricket Ground including the Walk of Honour, which is a series of 14 bronze statues featuring great Australian sportspeople who have strong links to the precinct. There is also a great museum which is best experienced as part of a guided tour. While there is an additional cost, it’s well worth it. Lastly, the media centre was recently renamed in honour of the late, great Richie Benaud. For the uninitiated, Richie Benaud captained the Australian team in 28 test matches between 1958 and 1963 before becoming one of the most recognisable, authoritative, and influential broadcasters of his time. For our North American readers, Benaud is comparable to Vin Scully.
The Sixers have taken the history of the SCG and added the sparkle, fun and excitement of T20 cricket. If you’re in Sydney during the long summer months, the Sixers must be on your “to-do” list.