It’s no secret that Australians love their sport, and the droves of passionate fans who fill stadiums around the country are testament to that. The AFL and NRL are two of the most popular leagues in the nation and are able to draw some of the largest crowds not just in Australia, but the world, and these are the biggest stadiums in Australia at which these leagues are played.
For most, the MCG needs little introduction. Known as the home of football (AFL, in this case), the ‘G is renowned both within Australia and abroad as one of the best stadiums on the planet. Capable of holding 100,000 fans, the stadium hosts up to three AFL games every weekend during the winter, while the Boxing Day Test Match, one of the biggest sporting events on the calendar, is also held there in the summer.
In the past, when regulations were far less stringent than what they are today, well over 100,000 fans would be crammed into the ground. In fact, for the 1970 VFL Grand Final, a massive 121,696 people managed to squeeze in to see Carlton take on Collingwood, a number which would be unfathomable today. Nonetheless, the roughly 100,000 supporters who enjoy the AFL Grand Final and Boxing Day Test each year, and the 80,000+ who pack in for various other big AFL games throughout the season, still make plenty of noise and create a sporting atmosphere which is unparalleled in Australia.
Stadium Australia was built at the end of last century in order to host the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and since then it has become the home of the NRL Grand Final. Originally built to fit a huge 110,000 spectators, the capacity is actually closer to 80,000, but on Grand Final Day that feels like more than enough.
Previously known as ANZ Stadium and Telstra Stadium, the ground also plays host to a number of NRL games throughout the season, with both the Canterbury Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs playing their home games there, the latter of whom is well and truly in the hunt this year according to the 2021 NRL Premiership odds with online sportsbook Betway. Throughout the course of the season though, it typically doesn’t get near capacity, with the home games of both of those sides averaging just a little over 15,000 supporters in 2019. In such a big stadium that can make for a somewhat eerie atmosphere, but that all changes for the last day of the season, which has been attended by at least 79,000 fans each and every year since it was first held there with the exception of 2020.
Optus Stadium is one of the newest additions to the list of Australian sporting arenas, but already it has made a name for itself as one of the best. The Perth-based stadium officially opened in the beginning of 2018, is the new home of the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers in the AFL, and has also hosted the State of Origin in the past. It’s located on the banks of the Swan River, looks great on TV and as fans who have been there can attest, has an electric atmosphere.
The latter of those points is of course helped by the fact that typically, AFL games there feature one Perth-based team and one interstate team, meaning the overwhelming majority of fans are supporting the same team. This means that, when the Eagles or Dockers kick a goal, nearly everyone in the stadium erupts at once, creating a volume which must be incredibly intimidating for the opposition. Of course, this same phenomenon exists at plenty of other stadiums around the country as well, but the 60,000 capacity Optus Stadium possesses a level of intimidation which is unmatched in all of Australia.
With so many passionate fans of both the AFL and the NRL in Australia, it’s little surprise that there are plenty of quality stadiums at which they are held. The list doesn’t end with the above, either – the likes of Adelaide Oval and Suncorp Stadium are every bit as worth visiting, and can create incredible atmospheres of their own, even if they are a little smaller. It’s the above three, however, which take the cake, occupying the top three spots as the biggest AFL and NRL stadiums in Australia.