The future of live sports entertainment is here thanks to a $20 million technology upgrade of NSW’s favourite place to watch rugby league, union and football – Allianz Stadium.
Spectators at A-League, Super Rugby and NRL matches can now order a beer from their seat and watch live replays on massive new superscreens.
Added to that are some 1200 IPTV enabled screens around the venue, breathing new life into a stadium that changed the way Australians watch sport when it opened in 1988.
And things are only going to get better in the future in the Moore Park precinct after NSW Premier Michael Baird’s September 2015 announcement concerning the upgrade of the city’s major sporting inafrastructure.
Mr Baird, joined by NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres, announced that the NSW Government would fund a “new stadium of 50-55,000 at Moore Park”.
While planning for the new venue continues, Allianz Stadium remains the preferred location for Sydney’s rectangular codes and is home to the NRL’s Sydney Roosters, Super Rugby’s NSW Waratahs and the A-League’s Sydney FC.
It will also host the inaugural Sydney Sevens in February 2016, a Socceroos FIFA World Cup qualifier in March and a rugby Test match between the Wallabies and England in June.
In late February, the A-League’s Sydney derby returns to Allianz Stadium and brings with it the best atmosphere in Australian sport as the Sky Blues take on the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Allianz Stadium sits alongside one of the world’s most famous sporting venues in the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Together they are the beating heart of a precinct that has entertained Sydneysiders for more than 160 years.
The SCG precinct is connected to the CBD and sits in the heart of Moore Park, at the front door to one of the world’s most celebrated public green spaces, Centennial Park.
Moore Park is a sporting and entertainment hub with few equals, boasting the headquarters of the NRL, Cricket NSW, Sydney Swans, AFL NSW and being next door to Fox Studios and EQ.
It is walking distance from Central railway station and is bounded by the vibrant suburbs of Surry Hills, Paddington and Green Square, the fastest growing locality in Australia.
Allianz Stadium was opened as the Sydney Football Stadium in 1988, a major Bicentennial Project. It was funded by the members of the stadium and the Trust and replaced the famed Sydney Sports Ground.
“Allianz Stadium was for $68 million in 1988, well over $600 million in today’s money,” the Trust’s general manager marketing and membership Jane Coles said.
“The Trust has spent more than $300 million from its own funds on upkeep and upgrades since that day, with the most recent being the $20 million digital upgrade.”
The digital upgrade went live for the 2015 NRL and Super Rugby seasons, delivering a number of firsts for Sydney sports fans including:
- Free high density venue-wide internet;
- Two giant new superscreens, the largest of their kind in a rectangular venue in the southern hemisphere;
- A flexible new mobile app in partnership with a US world-leading developer; and
- An interconnected IPTV network of more than 1200 screens.
Ms Coles said the digital upgrade had revolutionised the way the venue could market to and communicate with its patrons.
“From our perspective here, the biggest challenge for venues is being able to provide a match day experience that exceeds what fans are offered on the couch at home,” Ms Coles said.
“That challenge to get fans from the sofa to the stadium is echoed by all of our sports partners.
“The excellence of our television broadcasters is often cited as a challenge to ensure increased attendances.
“So we set about bringing the best of broadcast into the stadium and there’s no TV at home or in a pub that can compete with the Allianz superscreens.”
Ms Coles joined the Trust when she moved to Australia in December of 1995, initially working at the Aquatic and Athletic Centres at Sydney Olympic Park in the lead-up to to the 2000 Olympics.
Her responsibilities there focused on fitness centre management, venue operations and event management – experience that ensured a smooth transition when she moved to the Trust’s headquarters at Moore Park in 2001.
Today, Ms Coles has responsibility for two of the most important aspects of the Trust’s business, the 19,000 members and the marketing of the venues.
“Having switched to the Moore Park precinct, I’ve moved into more marketing, promotion, branding, membership, segmentation and stakeholder management,” Ms Coles said.
“Back in May of 2014, through the Trust, I was appointed as the second female director of the Sydney Cricket Club, mainly focusing on the future direction and planning of the Sydney Cricket Club and the SCG XI membership group, and then early this year there was a change in the structure of the executive and I’ve now added ICT, or Information Communications and Technology into my portfolio.”
Ms Coles’ ICT experience has proven beneficial, as the SCG’s development reflects the world’s constant technological changes.
“The SCG Trust has partnered with Kansas City-based Sporting Innovations and Melbourne’s PMY Group to ensure we remain at the absolute cutting edge of the industry,” Ms Coles said.
“Further, we have the closest of partnerships with Out and About Media and Marketing, a world leader in stadium branding, sponsorship & technology.
The Trust’s first true step into the digital age came with the $197.5 million development of the MA Noble, Don Bradman, Dally Messenger stand at the SCG.
The multiple award-winning facility revolutionised the match day experience for sports fans, giving them unheard of comfort, amenity and access to technology.
“The Noble Bradman Messenger Stand was voted project of the year at the 2015 Stadium Business Awards, a huge honour given it was up against the very best stadium developments around the world,” Ms Coles said.
“The new stand sits next to the Members and Ladies Pavilions, our beautiful old grandstands that are instantly recognisable just about anywhere in the sporting world.
“The Noble Bradman Messenger Stand increased capacity by 2000 (to 48,000) and provided vastly upgraded corporate, catering, media and back of house facilities.
“And even though it is far bigger than the stands it replaced, the new stand increased the size of the SCG’s field of play and moved spectators some 13 metres closer to the action.”
The new stand is just one reason that the AFL’s Sydney Swans recently signed a landmark 30-year deal to return all matches to the SCG.
The Swans had played three regular season matches at ANZ Stadium at Homebush under a contract that expires in 2016, but will play all regular season and finals matches at the SCG from season 2017 onwards.
The Swans’ return home and that of the NSW Waratahs who are contracted to play all home matches at Moore Park until 2031, is another important chapter in the history of the SCG precinct.
The SCG was established in 1852 and while Sydney has changed much since then, Sydneysiders’ love for attending a match at the SCG or Allianz Stadium has changed little.
NSW sports fans love making a pilgrimage to the SCG or Allianz, regardless of where they live.
In 2016 there are many highlights to witness; Buddy Franklin and the Swans, Kurtley Beale and the NSW Waratahs, Sydney FC, rugby league’s return to the SCG in March for the NRL Heritage Round and the famed Anzac Day clash between the Roosters and St George Illawarra at Allianzz Stadium.
But it is the years ahead, and the development of Premier Baird’s “new 50-55,000 stadium at Moore Park” that could be one of the most exciting things to happen to the Sydney sporting scene since the doors of Allianz Stadium were first opened in 1988.