LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Sydney Football Stadium

Contemporary reconstruction of a revered old ground

The field of dreams – and the story behind it

The newest of the ten venues co-hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the Sydney Football Stadium (aka Allianz Stadium) was only unveiled beside the Sydney Cricket Ground, at Moore Park south-east of town, in 2022.

The location is no coincidence. In its previous iteration on the same site, the home of rugby league in Sydney was in use from when it opened in 1988 to its closure and subsequent demolition 30 years later. 

Soccer also got a look-in, such as the 1993 World Youth Cup, when the final, one semi-final and most of Australia’s games were played here – 40,000 witnessed the hosts, captained by Kevin Muscat, lose 2-1 to England in the third-place match, and Brazil beat Ghana to win the trophy that same evening.

Later that year, a full house saw the Socceroos hold Maradona’s Argentina to a 1-1 draw in a failed attempt to reach the finals of the 1994 World Cup.

For the football tournament of the 2000 Olympics, Norway picked up a surprising gold at the expense of holders USA in a dramatic final at the original Sydney Football Stadium – the crowd smaller than the 29,400 who witnessed the Matildas’ brave attempt to stop Brazil in the last match of the group stage.

Thereafter, this became the home ground for A-League giants Sydney FC, winning the Grand Final here in 2017. Twice Grand Final winners Sydney FC Women also played here, along with Campbelltown Stadium, the Jubilee Oval in Carlton and the Leichhardt Oval in Lilyfield, where the men were based during the construction of the current arena.

The record champions moved into the new stadium in 2022 after the New South Wales government had footed the construction cost, one that finally totalled A$828 million. Major global insurers Allianz extended their sponsors’ naming rights, the relationship continued from the old stadium.

With seats done out in the colours of soccer’s Sky Blues, mingled with the dark blue prominent on the shirts of rugby league tenants, the Sydney Roosters, the venue reopened with a concert by former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian.

The Roosters quickly set the attendance record of 41,906, in the same week that the Matildas took on Canada in a friendly match here.

The local derby between Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers then drew 34,232 that November.

Premiers champions three seasons running from 2020 to 2023, Sydney FC Women continue to groundhop through the campaign.

For domestic fixtures, the most raucous followers of the men’s side, The Cove, occupy Bay 23 of the North or Paddington End, accessed through Gate 4. Visiting supporters are usually allocated Bay 1 in the South End nearest the East Stand, where you find most of the hospitality lounges. Capacity is 42,500.

getting here

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

Sydney’s many forms of transport include the Light Rail network, and its Special Event service to the Sydney Football Stadium at Moore Park from Central Chalmers alongside Central Station.

On match days during the Women’s World Cup, transfers are included in the price of your match ticket.

Payment for public transport in Sydney is otherwise by Opal card, free from transport centres, minimum initial top-up A$20. Contactless credit/debit cards are also valid. Touch in and out at all-transport readers but not when transferring between Sydney Metro, Sydney Trains and NSW trains, considered one journey. Plan your journey with TransportNSW.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

The nearest venue to the stadium, the Hotel Olympic, dates back to 1877, changing its name in 1956 to mark Olympic year in Melbourne. This traditional pre- and post-match watering hole has been closed for much of 2023 – fingers crossed it reopens for the Women’s World Cup.

Nearby on parallel Oxford Street, the Light Brigade comprises a bar, bistro, lounge and rooftop overlooking the Sydney skyline, all representing a four-storey makeover of a fin-de-siècle Art Deco pub by the Bayfield family, nearly 50 years in the pub game.

Further along Moore Park Road, past the stadium at the junction of Flinders Street, the Captain Cook Hotel was built in 1914 and changed hands in 2022 – so expect plenty of changes at this four-floor backpacker hostel and sports bar. The rooftop terrace overlooking the stadium is crying out for a makeover…

Closer and more attuned to the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Bat & Ball Hotel on Cleveland Street has been welcoming sports fans for generations. Long-term owners, the Kospetas family, makes sure that there’s plenty of Greek delights on the menu.

If you have the family in tow, the Entertainment Quarter the other side of Sydney Cricket Ground is where you find chain places such as Mary’s for burgers, The Bavarian for Steins and schnitzels, El Camino for Tex-Mex, and Fratelli Fresh for Italian craft beers and a beer garden.

The Urban Winery is just that, while the pub-like Watson’s fires up the four-metre mega screen in the beer garden. You’ll find Asahi, Mountain Goat and 4 Pines Pacific Ale among the draught options.