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Allianz Stadium set for last ever sporting fixture
Today’s NRL Preliminary Final between the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs will be the last sporting fixture at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium.
While Michael Bublé’s concert on 5th October will be the final event before the venue is permanently closed in advance of its demolition and replacement, the venue has hosted rugby league test matches since its opening.
Opened as the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS) in 1998, the venue has played host to numerous major sport and entertainment events as well as being home to many of Sydney’s NRL teams - especially the Sydney Roosters, the NSW Waratahs and Sydney FC.
When construction began 30 years ago, the Sydney Cricket Ground was the city’s major venue, but as football, rugby league and rugby union, although it had been used many times for such events.
Built on the site of the old Sydney Sports Ground, when the Philip Cox designed facility was opened in 1988 it received wide acclaim.
However, over the years, issues with access, in-venue facilities, protection from the elements and emergency egress led to the now planned replacement.
The venue’s sporting history began with two matches in Australia's 1988 Ashes series win against Great Britain. The first game of the series saw the Wally Lewis captained, Don Furner coached Australians christen their new Sydney home with a 17-6 win in front of 24,480 fans.
The record international rugby league crowd at the stadium was set for the first Ashes against Great Britain on their 1992 Australasian Tour when Australia won 22-6 in front of 40,141 in what was the first time a test in Sydney had attracted over 40,000 fans since 1974. The stadium has also hosted the Rugby League Tri-Nations, including the Final of the 2006 tournament in which Australia triumphed 16-12 over New Zealand in Golden point extra-time thanks to a try by captain Darren Lockyer.
Rugby league also had some memorable moments including: the first grand final in 1988 saw Canterbury-Bankstown defeat Balmain 24-12 in front of 40,000 fans to send club captain Steve Mortimer into retirement with a premiership; the match had its controversial moment when Bulldogs Five-eighth Terry Lamb hit Tigers English import Centre Ellery Hanley with a high tackle out of the game before the 30th minute; the 1989 NSWRL grand final which was won by the Canberra Raiders over the Balmain Tigers 19-14 thanks to a try by replacement forward Steve Jackson in extra-time for their first premiership; the 1991 NSWRL grand final won by the Penrith Panthers over Canberra 19-12 in which Penrith's Royce Simmons scored two tries in his final match giving the Panthers their first title; Brisbane's maiden premiership with a 28-8 win over St. George in 1992 NSWRL grand final, highlighted by a 95-metre try to Broncos Centre Steve Renouf; and the 1997 ARL Grand Final between the Newcastle Knights and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, with the Knights winning their first title with a 22-16 win following a try to Darren Albert in the dying seconds of the game after the Knights had trailed Manly since early in the game.
The last grand final played at the SFS was the 1998 NRL Grand Final between Canterbury and Brisbane. In front of 40,857 fans, the Broncos ran out easy 38-12 winners to win their 4th premiership from four grand Final appearances.
Two standout State Of Origin matches in which Queensland triumphed over NSW with last-minute victories in 1994 and 1998, as well as Michael O'Connor's sideline conversion in driving rain for a NSW win in Game 2 of the 1991 series.
The Sydney Football Stadium has been the venue of some of Australian sport's greatest matches and moments. The final of the 1993 FIFA World Youth Cup between Brazil and Ghana was also held at the SFS, Brazil winning 2-1. The 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Australia and Argentina featuring football legend Diego Maradona, finishing in a 1-1 draw with goals to Aurelio Vidmar for Australia and Abel Balbo for Argentina. Despite the grounds increase in capacity since 1993, this match retains the record sporting attendance at the SFS and many more were actually in attendance as the gates were thrown open close to kick-off as a safety measure.
It was used as the venue for the 2000 Summer Olympics Women's association football gold medal match between Norway and the United States. Norway defeated the USA 3-2 in front of 22,848 fans.
In 2002, the naming rights were purchased by Aussie Home Loans in a five-year deal with the venue renamed Aussie Stadium.
On 7th July 2007, the stadium reverted to its original Sydney Football Stadium name after Aussie Home Loans and the SCG Trust mutually elected not to extend the naming rights deal.
In 2003, the SFS hosted several matches in the Rugby World Cup: (Ireland v Namibia), (Argentina v Romania), (Scotland v Fiji), (South Africa v Georgia), (Georgia v Uruguay; this match was notable for attracting a crowd of 28,576, despite the low profiles of both teams).
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup's opening ceremony and Group A match between Australia and New Zealand was played at the Stadium. The SFS also hosted one game from the knockout stage: the 2nd Semi-final between Australia and Fiji.
In 2012, Allianz Insurance secured the rights to the naming of the venue with the it since having been known as Allianz Stadium.
In 2018, Allianz Stadium hosted one of three AFL pre-season mini competitions called AFLX.
The venue has also hosted major concerts from acts including U2 (in 1993 and 1998), Barbra Streisand, George Michael, Bon Jovi, Coldplay (in 2012 and 2016) and Taylor Swift as well as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2005.
A concert by Michael Bublé’s concert on 5th October will be the venue’s final event.
Images: Allianz Stadium prepares for its last ever sporting fixture (top), the Sydney Roosters secure the NRL Premiership in 2013 (middle) and Australasian Leisure Management marks the Edinburgh Military Tattoo at the venue in 2005 (below).
12th September 2018 - Figures show NRL as Australia’s most watched sport of 2018
12th September 2018 - Leading architectural practice releases proposal for new stadium in the Sydney CBD
6th July 2018 - SCG Trust Chief Executive moves to head Australian Turf Club
13th June 2018 - SCG Trust secures StadiumBusiness Venue Technology award
27th October 2017 - Australian rugby and sports science base opens in Sydney’s Moore Park
21st July 2017 - NSW Government releases ‘Commerciality Framework’ for stadia
16th March 2015 - SCG Trust and UTS partner to create Sports Central Campus
30th January 2015 - Waratahs to call Allianz Stadium home for 15 years
7th September 2013 - Roosters win NRL Minor Premiership in front of record crowd
1st March 2012 - SFS re-named Allianz Stadium
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