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  • Lloyd Rothwell

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

Capacity: 48,000

 

Smash ’em Sixers

The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) 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 match at the SCG was played in 1882 between Australia and England. Among the most distinctive features of the SCG are the old Members Pavilion and Ladies Stand, which were erected in 1886 and 1896 respectively. Capacity is approximately 48,000.


While its use as a cricket venue has been uninterrupted, the SCG was in fact the major sporting stadium for a number of different sports until the 1980s. Major rugby league and rugby union matches were played here until the Sydney Football Stadium opened next door in 1988. 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.


Food & Beverage 3

Well-known hospitality group Merivale has the catering rights at both the SCG and Allianz Stadium. While the restricted Member’s area has a wider range of premium items available, the remainder of the ground features largely pedestrian offerings at high prices. Staples such as meat pies, hot chips, and hot dogs are readily available for between $6-$9, with burgers (with chips) around $18. Healthy bowl choices (Kale, grilled chicken miso and lime grilled chicken) are between $17-$19. The aforementioned “premium” 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.


Atmosphere 5

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. The SCG retains this aspect despite numerous redevelopment projects 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. Pleasingly, on our latest visit there was a big reduction in the use of loud music between each ball, enabling fans to easily converse with one another without shouting.


Neighborhood 4

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.


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 (Men: Sydney Kings, Women: Sydney Flames). Of course, cricket fans will likely want to also see the Sydney Thunder at Spotless Stadium.


Fans 3

In recent years BBL crowds have declined. Many suggest this is due to an extended season leading to an oversupply of content, and the lack of star power within the league. However, crowds have returned in pleasing numbers for the 2022/23 season. Average attendance has risen to between 15,000 – 20,000 which provides a much-needed lift in atmosphere. The most sought-after game 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.



Access 4

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. Even though much of the BBL season coincides with school holidays, large crowds will always be accompanied by traffic-jams. Parking is available in the parklands opposite for $30, with payment only accepted by card – no cash. Note that the government is currently in talks with Venues NSW regarding discontinuing the current arrangements and building a new multi-level carpark.


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. In most cases the upper decks in each grandstand are closed as crowds are less than capacity.


Return on Investment 4

General admission tickets represent good value; $25 for an adult, and $5 for children ($50 for a family ticket), 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.


Extras 5

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. The newest addition to this showcase is Belinda Clark, a trailblazer for women’s cricket who has given a lifetime of service to the sport as a player and administrator. 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.


Final Thoughts

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.

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