Bankwest Stadium hosted its first sports event on Easter Monday, with just shy of 30,000 fans in attendance to see a dominant Parramatta Eels victory christen their new home in style.
The stadium is an extraordinary improvement on the stadium which once stood in its place. Parramatta Stadium hosted its final event in September 2016 – that venue replaced the old Cumberland Oval, which Eels fans burnt to the ground after their club won their first premiership in 1981.
The new $300-million stadium, known as Western Sydney Stadium during construction, has a 30,000-seat capacity – 10,000 more than the old venue, while it boasts the steepest grandstands in the country, bringing fans as close as possible to the action.
The Parramatta Eels thrashed the Wests Tigers, who themselves will play three home games at the stadium, 51-6 in front of a crowd of 29,047. While it was officially a sell-out some empty seats were visible at the back of either end.
The Eels won the wooden spoon last year and have played out of ANZ Stadium since vacating Parramatta, and how good it was for the club to return to their spiritual home.
Similar to Perth’s Optus Stadium, teams enter the field via a field club, full of members and supporters, while LED floodlighting projects light patterns onto the playing surface and the exterior lights up in the home teams’ colours.
The Eels have partnered with TLA and leading US multimedia studio Game Changer MVP to deliver all aspects of in-stadium Big Screen, LED and IPTV production. Parramatta is the first Australian club to work with Game Changer MVP, joining some of the world’s biggest clubs in the MLB, NFL and NBA, to give fans a world-class game day experience at the new stadium.
Possibly the only criticism is the fact many Eels members have been forced to relocate from the western to the eastern side of the stadium due to the western side predominantly being corporate facilities in the new stadium. This has resulted in those fans now sitting and looking into the sun, something that previously wasn’t an issue.
While it is primarily the home of the Parramatta Eels (NRL) and Western Sydney Wanderers (A-League), the venue has a packed event schedule, also hosting some home games for the Tigers and Bulldogs, NSW Waratahs, as well as a Wallabies match and the Rugby League World Cup 9s.
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Sydney’s stadium situation has been a circus, mainly focused on the Sydney Football Stadium (Allianz Stadium) and ANZ Stadium, however Bankwest Stadium shows what can be done right.
It’s hoped the new venue will aid NRL fans in getting out of their armchairs and returning to matches, to boost floundering crowd numbers. No longer can the venue be used as an excuse.