Origin decider attracts Suncorp sell-out and coronavirus record crowd
Wednesday's State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium was the first sporting event in Australia to be played in front of a full-house and set a world-record attendance.
The Queensland Government had previously announced that as of 4pm Tuesday, crowd restrictions would ease for seated ticketed venues in the State, from 75% to 100% of capacity.
That paved the way for the 52,500-capacity stadium to be packed full of Queensland Maroons supporters for the final game of the 2020 series.
Games one and two were played in front of half-full stadiums with restrictions in South Australia and NSW capping crowds at 50% of capacity. QLD defeated NSW in front of 25,218 fans at Adelaide Oval in the series opener, with NSW levelling the series in front of 36,212 spectators at ANZ Stadium last week.
Since last Friday’s announcement of full capacity, the NRL had released tickets for an additional 16,000 seats, most of which were snapped up prior to the clash.
Wednesday’s attendance is the largest for any sports event in the world since the outbreak of Coronavirus earlier this year. Previously, that record sat with Auckland’s Eden Park, which attracted 46,049 for the second Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and Wallabies on October 18.
While in Australia, the highest attendance had been for the NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium on October 25, with 37,303 spectators watching the Melbourne Storm defeat the Penrith Panthers. 37,112 fans watched the Storm v Raiders Preliminary Final at Suncorp Stadium the week prior and 36,626 were at Suncorp for the final Bledisloe Cup match.
The lower-capacity Gabba meant only 29,707 could attend the relocated AFL Grand Final and elsewhere around the world, the highest NFL crowd was 31,700 for a Dallas Cowboys game last week, 20,000 attended baseball in Japan, while the English Premier League continues in front of empty stadiums.
About 2000 tickets were gifted to front line health care workers and emergency services personnel for the State of Origin decider to say thank you for the work they have done during the pandemic.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said gifting tickets to those who had kept the community safe and healthy was important to the game.
“Frontline healthcare workers and emergency services personnel are among the heroes of our nation. The allocation of tickets is a small way for the game to say thank you for the remarkable work they have done this year.”
Despite the easing, Suncorp Stadium asked fans to ensure safety by wearing a mask unless they are seated and to remain within the zone allocated on their ticket to minimise circulation. Cashless only payments were in use for food and beverage and merchandise.
With Queensland moving to 100% of capacity for sports stadiums, NSW, WA and ACT remain at 50% of capacity, while NT has no crowd cap. Victoria will allow crowds of up to 25% of capacity from November 23, with the Boxing Day Test expected to attract crowds of 25,000 per day at the MCG.