Spotless Stadium – Western Sydney Wanderers
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Welcome to Wanderland
Spotless Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park was built to serve as the main baseball stadium for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics and as the new Sydney Showground, home of the Royal Agricultural Society. This boutique stadium currently has a capacity of 25,000.
A number of teams and sports have utilised Spotless Stadium over the years. The Canterbury Bulldogs of the National Rugby League (NRL) called the Showground home for the 2001 season before moving across the boulevard to ANZ Stadium. The main tenant since their inception in 2012 has been the Greater Western Sydney Giants (GWS) of the AFL. The Sydney Thunder of the Big Bash Cricket League (BBL) have also recently made the move from ANZ to Spotless.
The Western Sydney Wanderers (WSW) were born rather hurriedly in time to replace Gold Coast United (C-BUS Super Stadium) who had their license revoked in 2012. The sprawling Western Sydney region is a hotspot of football (soccer) participation and had long desired their own team, never really having embraced the eastern suburbs elitist Sydney FC (Allianz Stadium). The club quickly gained a large and passionate fan base from across the region – one of the fastest growing in Australia. Success came equally quickly, with a premiership and AFC victory at their first attempt.
The Wanderers are now also based at Sydney Olympic Park following the demolition of Pirtek Stadium at Parramatta in preparation for the new Western Sydney Stadium which will open in time for the 2019 rugby league season. Until then WSW will play the majority of their games at Spotless, with a few marquee games at ANZ Stadium.
Food & Beverage 5
Here at Stadium Journey we’ve long considered the food at Spotless Stadium as the benchmark for other sporting venues in Sydney, if not across Australia. The options are plentiful and certainly of better quality than usual. As with all venues the prices are dear, but the difference here is that it’s much easier to justify.
Take your pick of outlets including Mick’s Bake House (pies), Wally’s Hot Dogs (hot dogs), Jimmy’s Catch (fish and chips), Kebabish (kebabs), Bell’s Kitchen (burgers), Wok ‘n’ Bowl (Asian), and Subway. Expect to spend somewhere around $15+ per person for a decent meal and a drink. The queues peak at half time and remain until10-15 minutes into the second half. The outlets on the southern and eastern sides are the busiest.
The offerings at the bar are fairly standard. Tap beer is Great Northern ($7.50), with Cascade Premium Light ($6.50). Red, white and sparkling wine are $7.50 while mixed drinks (Beam and Cola, CC and Dry, and Vodka) are $9. Soft drinks are priced at $4.70.
The pies at Spotless Stadium are among the best you’ll experience at a sports stadium – there’s no soggy lukewarm pre-packaged pies here. Grab one on your way to your seat as a starter and then choose a main depending on what you feel like on the day. If you’ve got the kids with you then they’ll want dessert too.
The question of where the Wanderers would play while the new stadium was being built was a complex and contentious one. In the end the club decided to stay close to their home at Parramatta by moving to Olympic Park. That is fine, except Spotless Stadium is an oval rather than rectangular playing surface. There’s little doubt this fact detracts from the experience and many WSW fans are not happy with the decision for this reason. Crowds also seem to be down from the 18,000 average the Wanderers were getting at Parramatta. We’re a big fan of the boutique Spotless Stadium for AFL and cricket, but a football ground it is not. They’ve tried to make it feel like home, but it’s just not the same.
The Sydney Olympic Park precinct is a modern area consisting of major sporting and recreation venues, hotels, restaurants and bars. While it is true that the area largely depends on major events to create “buzz,” there is generally enough around to give you decent pre or post game options regardless of your preferences. It’s also worth checking the schedules of other summer sports based at Olympic Park to consider double-header opportunities or a sporting weekend at Homebush; the length of the A-League season means you may also have the chance to see Sydney Thunder (BBL) or the Sydney Kings (NBL) in the heart of summer, or rugby league teams Canterbury, Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra or South Sydney into the cooler months towards the end of the season.
More generally, Sydney Olympic Park is in the inner western suburbs of Sydney, 16km from the Central Business District. There are plenty of dining options nearby. Nearby restaurants cover fine dining, sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian and modern Australian, along with numerous fast food chains. Hotels on site include (in decreasing star rating order) Pullman at Sydney Olympic Park, the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, Quest Apartments, Hotel Ibis, and Ibis Budget Hotel. Dorm style accommodation is also available in The Lodge, managed by the YMCA.
It’s fair to say fans of WSW are amongst the passionate of any sports team in the country. However, the main supporter group, Red and Black Bloc (RBB), have built a somewhat infamous reputation. We’ve repeatedly reported on violence, flares, crude language, offensive behaviour, and their obscene tifo featuring a distasteful image of rival Sydney FC’s head coach. The RBB reserve the section immediately behind the goals at the southern end. The more moderate but no less passionate West Sydney Terrace group (WST), are in the north-eastern corner. The game we attended saw the WST hand out Easter chocolate and stickers to kids in the vicinity – nice touch.
No one can question the dedication of WSW fans. They are truly committed to their team and are proud supporters. However, at times it is a fine line as the game of football has a perception problem in the mainstream media and amongst sections of Australian society. Rightly or wrongly, the behaviour of football fans is subject to a higher level of scrutiny than most other sports in this country; with any behaviour perceived as not being “family friendly” splashed across the nightly news and front pages of the papers.
At the game we attended, we did not witness anything untoward, except the odd snippet of foul language – and even then, probably less than occurs at many other sporting events. Other fans were openly drawn to the excitement of the two supporter groups, which clearly adds to the WSW experience.
There are plenty of options when travelling to Sydney Olympic Park. If you plan on driving, check to see what other events are being hosted at the Park on the day. There can be traffic hassles and difficulty parking if it’s a particularly busy day or in Friday night peak hour. 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 stadium. There are bag searches and security to pass through upon entry but that is quite common at most venues these days. The stadium has aged quite well. The concourse is a little tight in places, but mostly assists smooth flow of foot traffic, and the bathrooms are clean and plentiful.
Return on Investment 4
Adult tickets start around the $30 mark with the cheapest ticket for a family of four running just over $75. The experience is solid but add parking and food, and you’ll likely be looking at over $160. Does this represent good value? We think so.
Free program, kids zone down the northern end, and some of the most passionate fans of any team in the country.
The Wanderers have built their identity in an amazingly short period of time, and may yet help awaken the sleeping giant of Australian sport. It’s only a temporary home, and not a football ground, but Spotless Stadium still has a lot of things going for it.
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