Nathan Smith was part of the Eels faithful who went through the new Bankwest Stadium during the week. Here’s what he thought of Sydney’s newest venue.
Having had the privilege of attending a Parramatta Eels open training session at Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday night, there is little doubt that it will change the sporting landscape in Western Sydney forever.
The first thing you notice as you stand outside is the size. It’s huge. A coliseum. The stadium dwarfs Pirtek Stadium in a major way. A few recreational facilities are conveniently located just around the exterior, as well, including two miniature basketball courts, play equipment, and a strip of grass ideal for kicking the footy around before going inside.
Naturally, fans aren’t visiting for those little touches, though they are nice. Primarily, League fans are here to watch Parramatta play at home again. The only difference is, this time, home is a $360 million, 30,000 seat, world class venue.
So what makes this stadium so great? Let’s start with the most fundamental aspect of any fan’s viewing experience in a stadium: the structure. On the night, a fellow at the stadium said that “there are no bad seats in Bankwest Stadium”. It’s a fair assessment. Every fan will be engaged with the action whether they are sitting in the very front row, or the last, due to the proximity of the seats to the pitch. The architects had used the steepest permissible angle in its design, and as such, have created a fantastic seating arrangement. Furthermore, all seats are undercover, meaning even on a rotten, rainy day when it seems better to stay dry and watch the game on television, you have every reason to get up and go out.
The atmosphere will be something else. On a visual level, the stadium features 360 degree LED screens, which allows images and colours to race around and illuminate the stadium. Given the aforementioned structure of the stadium, the acoustics of sound, and the audience, are immensely amplified. Sitting with just over 7000 Parramatta fans for the open training session was loud; imagine 30,000?
Finally, let’s talk about the facilities. They were most impressive indeed. You will never need to walk more than 30 metres away from where you’re sitting to find a bathroom, canteen or bar. Beyond this, the pricing at Bankwest Stadium makes going to the footy affordable. As an example, a pie and chips will set you back $9.80. A full strength Australian lager is at $7.20, while soft drinks are $4.90. Comparatively, some stadiums charge $7 as a minimum for the likes of a meat pie or hot dog alone, and close to $10 for a half strength beer or $7 for a soft drink. And the bar? It’s not a trough with a few people behind the counter mass pouring drinks; it’s a place you can walk into, sit down and relax, and have a drink.
Though its primary use will be for Western Sydney based sides, this stadium is a win for all Sydney sports fans. A sold out Easter Monday clash between the Eels and Tigers is the perfect way to kick off a new era. Whether your side plays there or not, it’s worthwhile coming down to see exactly what it’s all about.