Qudos Bank Arena – Sydney Kings
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We Are All Kings
The Sydney Kings have long been regarded as one of the glamour clubs of the National Basketball League (NBL). Adopting the LA Lakers colours of purple and gold, the original iteration of the Kings was formed in 1987 as an amalgamation of former Sydney NBL clubs the Weststars and the Supersonics. After finally experiencing sustained success during the early 2000s, the Kings NBL license was terminated in 2008 after the owner was unable to pay player salaries. The iconic franchise was eventually relaunched for the 2010-11 season. Following the demolition of the Sydney Entertainment Centre at Darling Harbour, the club moved west to Olympic Park and now call Qudos Bank Arena home.
Originally built as the Sydney Superdome in 1999 to serve as the major indoor venue for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics, the arena acquired its corporate name in 2016. Basketball capacity is 18,200, making it the largest capacity indoor arena in Australia. During the Olympics, the basketball and gymnastics events were held at the Dome, but since then it has hosted many concerts, conferences, and sporting events including basketball, netball, ice hockey, and tennis.
Given its size, the Dome was the site of the largest ever netball crowd in the world during the Netball World Cup in 2015. Similarly, the largest ever basketball crowd in Australia was held at Qudos Bank Arena in 1999. The arena is operated by AEG Ogden, who also owns a majority stake in the Kings.
Food & Beverage 4
There’s a solid selection of food items available for purchase at Qudos Bank Arena including fries ($6.50), burgers (beef – $15, chicken – $13, veggie – $13), hot dogs ($7.50), and a kids chicken nuggets combo ($10). You’ll also have a selection of wraps, salads, chips, chocolates, ice creams, and other snacks to choose from if you’re after something a little lighter. Beer, wine, and cider will set you back between $7.50 and $9.50, with pre-mixed spirits priced at $12. Note that many items have a “Kings Member” price, which is up to $2 cheaper than the headline rate.
The move to Olympic Park and the new ownership has reinvigorated the Kings franchise, as well as the game day experience. Recruiting former NBA championship winner Andrew Bogut for the 2018/19 season has added a star-quality on the court. The fans have embraced the big centre, with many sporting Bogut jerseys. Bogut will be involved with the Kings for many years to come, with his contract including an agreement to take on a minority ownership stake once his playing days are over.
Despite being 20 years old, the arena still presents exceptionally well. Upon arrival, there is a small activation precinct located in front of the building. There is a relatively quick security check outside the venue itself before you enter the large open foyer, which is adorned with large Kings banners. Also, be sure to take the opportunity to have your photo taken sitting in the large replica throne – a nice touch. Indeed, for a venue that is used for numerous different events, the Kings do an excellent job of customising it for their fans.
The majority of spectators will need to take the escalator or stairs to access their seats, but once upstairs, the walkways are wide and easily accommodate the crowd. Each bay is well-marked, making the entry hassle-free, and once inside the arena itself, several features stand out. Firstly, the video screen is huge – reportedly the largest indoor screen in the southern hemisphere. This is a welcome addition, as many Australian venues are only just now starting to realize the value a large screen can make to the fan experience.
One end of Qudos Bank Arena is dedicated to the club; a large stage at floor level features the words “Sydney Kings” spelled out in large capital letters, which are illuminated by soft purple lighting. In addition, hanging from the rafters above this are the Kings championship and club legends banners.
The pre-game introductions are impressive; the “lights out” announcement is a great way to engage the crowd, who respond by holding their mobile phones in the air. During the game, the announcer and musical interludes are well done and add to the experience. Additionally, there are cheerleaders and a mascot.
The Sydney Olympic Park precinct is a modern area consisting of major sporting and recreation venues, hotels, restaurants, and bars. In the past, the area has been accused of being soulless and lacking “buzz;” however, these days this criticism is largely unwarranted. There are often several events occurring in the precinct on the same day, and as the Park is also home to an increasing number of residents, many are community-based. That being the case, visitors should almost always have several options for pre or post-match entertainment. It’s also worth checking the schedules of other summer sports based at Olympic Park to consider doubleheader opportunities or a sporting weekend at Homebush; specifically, Sydney Thunder BBL cricket and Western Sydney Wanderers – both at nearby Spotless Stadium.
Local basketball appears to be gaining in popularity across the country, with increased attention and media coverage across the board. The Kings seem to have been able to capitalise on the increased attention, with the recruitment of Bogut likely also playing a part in the larger crowds. Fans seem comfortable with the move west and have welcomed the Kings to Western Sydney. Attendance is around 8,000 per game for the current (2019) season, and therefore one of the highest across the NBL.
Much of the crowd is decked out in Kings purple and yellow, and fans are loud – there are a number of cheers initiated by the announcer, and the crowd responds to all of them, as well as generally remaining vocal and focused on the game at all times. “Go, Kings, Go” is a familiar refrain throughout the game.
The atmosphere is infectious and you can’t help but be impressed. The Kings have focused on entertainment, and their fans obviously agree with what they’re seeing.
There are plenty of options when traveling to Sydney Olympic Park. If you plan on driving, check to see what other events are being hosted at the Park on the day, as there can be traffic hassles and difficulty parking if it’s a particularly busy day. Most of the time though driving is a good option; park in the P1 car park which will cost you a maximum of $25 for the duration.
If you’re considering public transport, then a train is a good bet with the station only a short walk from the facility. As a large venue, Qudos Bank Arena is well suited to crowds and the concourses are generally wide and easy to negotiate. There are bag searches and security to pass through upon entry, but that is fairly common at most venues these days. The bathrooms here also remain in good condition.
Return on Investment 4
With tickets for a family of four starting at $40 (Bronze Level), getting into the game itself is not obviously expensive. However, there are several different price points depending on the experience you’re looking for, with the best seats in the house selling for $85 for an adult. Add in parking and food means it won’t necessarily be a cheap day out, but the fan experience and quality production the Kings are putting on make it worth your cash.
It’s the little things that make the difference, and the Kings have delivered. The timing just seems right for the club at the moment; they are rightfully proclaiming a new era yet also are drawing on their history. In addition, the pre-game ritual is exciting, and the continual entertainment makes the game fly by.
The Kings are more competitive both on and off the court since the move to Qudos Bank Arena, so if you’re in Sydney and haven’t been to a Kings game in a few years, it’s time you returned.
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