Sunshine Coast Stadium capacity reduced following packed NRL crowd
The capacity for Melbourne Storm’s next home game at Sunshine Coast Stadium has been reduced following a bumper crowd at Sunday’s game.
The Storm is currently playing their home games at the regional venue due to the ongoing COVID situation in Victoria and the games have proved popular with the locals.
Sunshine Coast Stadium’s capacity is 12,000 (the venue attracted a sell-out crowd of 11,912 fans to its first NRL premiership game last year) and a 50% of capacity restriction had been in place for Melbourne Storm’s home games at the stadium this year.
Sunday’s round 12 clash against the Knights attracted 5,437 fans, while the Storm’s first game in round 10 against the Titans looked to have a similar attendance, although the official figure wasn’t released.
While fans were clearly spaced apart in the 1050-seat grandstand, the same couldn’t be said for rest of the stadium, especially on the eastern hill, with images posted on social media and sparking criticism about the lack of social distancing in place.
Sunshine Coast Council has responded by decreasing the capacity limit by a further 1,000 (down to 5,000) for the Storm’s next game on Saturday against the Bulldogs, with no further tickets to be sold for the match.
The ticketing website for the Melbourne Storm games clearly listed protocols in place in response to COVID-19, including ‘Maintain social distancing of 1.5m with people outside of my immediate group’. The page also says ‘To a certain degree, these measures will only work if everyone buys in.’ Unfortunately, it appears the fans didn’t buy in.
Sunshine Coast Council said the stadium made significant changes ahead of the match including increased security, volunteers, police and staff.
Melbourne Storm put out a release on Sunday night requesting Sunshine Coast Stadium to review its crowd management practices and capacity before the next home game.
“The stadium operates under a site specific COVID safe plan approved by Queensland Health and includes having Queensland Police in attendance.”
“Today’s attendance of 5437 was inside the 50% capacity approved by Queensland Health for sporting events of this nature in Queensland.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk thanked the NRL for taking swift action.
"We don't want to see large crowds gathering and not social distancing. The majority were seated, not moving around, but having said that I want to commend the NRL for taking that very swift action and letting my office know that they will be reducing the numbers by 1,000," she said.