Stadium Australia, commercially known as ANZ Stadium and formerly as Telstra Stadium, is a multi-purpose stadium located in the Sydney Olympic Park, in Sydney, Australia. The stadium, which in Australia is sometimes referred to as "Sydney Olympic Stadium" or simply as the "Olympic Stadium", was completed in March 1999 at a cost of A$690 million to host the 2000 Summer Olympics. Every year since the stadium was built, the New South Wales rugby league team's home games in the State of Origin series have been played there. Also the stadium has since hosted the annual National Rugby League grand final. ANZ Stadium also hosted the 2003 Rugby World Cup finals and Bledisloe Cup matches, regular Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL matches, as well as international soccer matches featuring Australia's national team the Socceroos, and exhibition games by Sydney-based A-League team Sydney FC. The stadium also hosted the 2015 AFC Asian Cup final.
The stadium was originally built to temporarily hold 110,000 spectators, making it the largest Olympic Stadium ever built but still not the largest in Australia, with the Melbourne Cricket Ground formerly holding more than 120,000 before its re-design in the early 2000s. In 2003 reconfiguration work was completed to shorten the north and south wings, and install movable seating. These changes reduced the capacity to 83,500 for a rectangular field and 82,500 for an oval field (making it the second largest stadium in Australia, after the Melbourne Cricket Ground). Awnings were also added over the north and south stands, which allows most of the seating to be undercover. The stadium was also engineered along sustainable lines for example with the low use of steel in the roof structure in comparison to the Olympic stadiums of Athens and Beijing.
The stadium lacked a naming rights sponsor in its formative years, bearing the name Stadium Australia between its opening in 1999 and 2002. In 2002, telecommunications company Telstra acquired the naming rights, resulting in the stadium being known as Telstra Stadium. On 12 December 2007 it was announced by the Stadium Australia Group (SAG) that the stadium's name was to be changed to ANZ Stadium after concluding a deal with ANZ Bank worth around A$31.5 million over 7 years. This change took effect on 1 January 2008. In 2014, ANZ renewed the deal through to the end of 2017.
In 1993, Stadium Australia was designed to host the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The first sporting event held at the stadium was on 6 March 1999 when a then-record rugby league football crowd of 104,583 watched the NRL first round double-header, featuring Newcastle v Manly and Parramatta v St George Illawarra Dragons. The attendance broke the old record of 102,569 set at the Odsal Stadium in Bradford, England for the Challenge Cup Final replay between Warrington and Halifax held on 5 May 1954.
The first musical act held at the newly built stadium was the Bee Gees, consisting of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, on March 27, 1999. The band had embarked on what would be their final world tour as a group before the death of Maurice, the tour ending in the newly built Olympic Stadium. The show was sold out with an attendance of 66,285.
The stadium was not officially opened until June 1999 when the Australian National Soccer team played the FIFA All Stars. Australia won the match 3–2 in front of a crowd of 88,101. Stadium Australia also played host to the national side's historic playoff win over Uruguay in November 2005, a victory which granted Australia FIFA World Cup qualification for only the second time in the country's history. The event attracted a virtual capacity crowd of 82,698.
The 1999 Bledisloe Cup rugby union match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks attracted a then-world record rugby union crowd of 107,042. In 2000 this was bettered when an almost capacity crowd of 109,874 (capacity at the time was 110,000) witnessed the "Greatest ever Rugby Match" when a Jonah Lomu try sealed an All Blacks win over the Wallabies 39–35. The All Blacks had led 24-nil after 11 minutes only to see Australia draw level at 24-all by halftime.
An exhibition soccer match between the Socceroos and Premier League team Manchester United was played on 18 July 1999. Manchester United defeated Australia 1-0 in front of 78,000 spectators.
On 9 June 1999, the stadium hosted its first ever State of Origin series game between New South Wales and Queensland. The match, Game 2 of the three game series, saw the record Origin attendance in Sydney when 88,336 saw the Blues christen their new home with a 12-8 win. The attendance broke the Origin attendance record of 87,161 set at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Game 2 of the 1994 series.
On 7 August 1999, a National Football League (American Football) exhibition game called the American Bowl was played between the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers, bringing home former Australian Football League player Darren Bennett, the Chargers' punter. The Broncos won the game 20–17 in front of 73,811 spectators. This was Australia's first, and currently only, American Bowl game.
The 1999 National Rugby League Grand Final, played on 26 September between the Melbourne Storm and the St George Illawarra Dragons, broke the rugby league world-record crowd previously set earlier in the season when 107,999 came to watch the Storm defeat the Dragons 20–18 to win their first NRL Premiership. Storm captain Glenn Lazarus, who had previously won Grand Finals with Canberra (1989 and 1990), and Brisbane (1992 and 1993) retired after the game having played 254 games.
During the 2000 Olympics, the evening track and field sessions on day 11 attracted 112,524 spectators on the night that Australia's Cathy Freeman won the Olympic Gold Medal for the Women's 400 metres. As of 2014, this remains the world record attendance for any athletics event. Also during the Olympics, the association football (soccer) final attracted 104,098 to witness Cameroon defeat Spain for its first-ever Olympic gold medal. This was an Olympic Games football attendance record, breaking the record of 101,799 set at the Rose Bowl during the Gold Medal game of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
The opening ceremony for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the stadium completely sold out all 110,000 seats, while the highest attendance for any event in modern Olympic Games history was recorded with 114,714 at the stadium for the closing ceremony of the same Games. Musical acts for the closing ceremony were a "who's who" of Australian music including Kylie Minogue, John Paul Young, Jimmy Barnes, Midnight Oil, INXS (with Jon Stevens), Men at Work, and Slim Dusty who sang Waltzing Matilda.
The Sydney Swans v Collingwood Australian Football League (AFL) match at the Stadium on Saturday, 23 August 2003 set an attendance record for the largest crowd to watch an Australian rules football match outside of Victoria with 72,393 spectators (87.7% capacity) attending and was the largest home-and-away AFL crowd at any Australian stadium for 2003. The attendance broke the record of 66,897 set at Football Park in Adelaide, South Australia on 28 September 1976 for the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Grand Final between the Sturt and Port Adelaide Football Clubs.
2 October 2005 saw 82,453 attend the NRL grand final in which the Wests Tigers defeated the North Queensland Cowboys 30–16.
16 November 2005 saw 82,698 attend the second leg of the Oceania-South America Qualification Playoff game for qualification to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Australia defeated Uruguay 1–0, which led to a penalty shootout as Uruguay had won the first leg of the playoff 1–0. Australia won the shootout 4–2 and secured a spot in the World Cup for the first time since 1974. The penalty spot where John Aloisi's spot kick secured victory has been permanently preserved and is on public display at the stadium.
On 1 October 2006, the stadium hosted the 2006 NRL Grand Final between the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm. It was the first time since the competition began in 1908 that two teams from outside of Sydney had contested the Grand Final. 79,609 fans saw the Broncos defeat the Storm 15-8. As of the 2015 NRL Grand Final, this is one of only two times that no Sydney based team has contested the premiership decider and also the only time an NRL Grand Final at the Olympic Stadium has failed to attract at least 80,000 fans.
On 5 October 2008, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles defeated the Melbourne Storm 40-0 in the 2008 NRL Grand Final in front of 80,388 fans. This is the record winning margin for a Grand Final, breaking the previous record of 38-0 when Eastern Suburbs defeated St George in the 1975 Grand Final played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 2008 was the centenary year of the competition. It was also the first time a team had been held scoreless in a Grand Final since Manly had defeated Cronulla-Sutherland 16-0 in the 1978 Grand Final Replay at the SCG (the original Grand Final that year had been drawn 11-11).
In February 2009, the stadium replaced its existing two television screens with new Panasonic HD LED video screens that measure 23x10m – 70% larger than the original screens, and 50% larger than the screens in the Beijing National Stadium, whilst consuming less power than the old screens. Additionally, an LED perimeter screen showcasing ANZ advertising has been installed on the second level from the 30m line to the 30m line.
25 September 2009 saw the largest ever NRL finals attendance (non-Grand Final) in competition history when 74,549 fans saw the Parramatta Eels defeat the Bulldogs 22-12 in the Preliminary Final of the 2009 NRL season. This beat the previous finals record of 57,973 set at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the Preliminary Final of the 1963 NSWRFL season which St George defeat Parramatta 12-7.
It hosted its first ever International Cricket match when Australia took on India in a Twenty20 night game on 1 February 2012. The match attracted a crowd of 59,569 which remains the largest crowd ever for a cricket match in New South Wales.
30 September 2012 saw the largest ever NRL Grand Final crowd since reconfiguration up until 2014 when 82,976 attended the 2012 NRL Grand Final to see the Melbourne Storm defeat the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14–4. This number was nearly reached in the 2009 NRL Grand Final between the Storm and the Parramatta Eels, with 82,538 in attendance. On 13 and 14 December 2010, a U2 concert, one of the biggest in history, was held at the ANZ Stadium.
On 6 July 2013 a new rectangle configuration record attendance of 83,702 watched the British and Irish Lions defeat The Wallabies 41-16 to win the Tom Richards Cup by 2-1.
The record set by the Wallabies test was broken just 10 days later on 17 July when 83,813 (only 187 short of capacity) attended Game 3 of the 2013 State of Origin series. Queensland defeated NSW 12-10 to win their 8th straight Origin series. With 80,380 attending Game 1 at the stadium, the attendances also broke the Origin attendance records for the first and third game of a series. With the second game of the series attracting 51,690 to Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, 2013 also broke the Origin series attendance record with 215,883 attending the three games.
On 6 September 2013, the largest ever NRL minor round attendance for a single game at the stadium was set when 59,708 saw eventual 2013 Premiers the Sydney Roosters defeat South Sydney 24-12 in the final round of the 2013 NRL season. This was also the largest single game minor round crowd in the history of the premiership dating back to 1908. This broke the previous record set at the ANZ Stadium in Brisbane (now known as the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre) on 27 August 1993 when St George defeated Brisbane 16-10 in Round 22 of the 1993 NSWRL season in front of 58,593 fans.
On 18 June 2014, 83,421 fans saw NSW defeat Qld 6-4 in Game 2 of the 2014 State of Origin series. After having won Game 1 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the home side's win saw Queensland's eight year domination of Origin come to an end as New South Wales won their first series since 2005.
On 5 October 2014, a new post-reconfiguration attendance record of 83,833 saw South Sydney defeat Canterbury Bankstown 30-6 in the 2014 NRL Grand Final. It was the Rabbitohs first Grand Final appearance and premiership win since 1971.
On 27 December 2014, a new domestic cricket record crowd for NSW was set with 32,823 attending the Sydney Derby between the Sydney Thunder and the Sydney Sixers. The crowd was the highest domestic cricket crowd in NSW history, only to be knocked off a few weeks later at the Sydney Cricket Ground involving the same two teams.
History was repeated on 4 October 2015 when for only the second time in the NRL's history, no NSW team was in the Grand Final and for the first time ever, it was a Queensland Derby in the final between Brisbane and North Queensland. 82,758 people, many of whom had travelled down from various parts of Queensland, witnessed one of the all-time great grand finals when the game went into Golden Point time courtesy of a Kyle Feldt try in the dying moments to level the scores at 16 all. But the game would be remembered for Ben Hunt's dropped ball from the kick-off to extra time which led to Johnathan Thurston's field goal that gave North Queensland their first ever premiership in the NRL since being admitted into the competition in 1995. Apart from games involving national teams, the crowd is the largest ever in NSW not to involve a team based in the state.
In October 2001, major reconfiguration work on the stadium was commenced to allow for sports that require an oval field, such as cricket and Australian rules football, to be played at the ground. The two wing stands were removed as well as the athletics track and a movable seating section was introduced in its place. New roofs were built over the two ends and seats that had a poor view of the field were removed. The reconfiguration reduced the capacity to 84,000 for the rectangular field and 82,500 for the oval field at a total cost of $80 million. The construction work was carried out by Multiplex.
The reconfiguration work was completed in October 2003 in time for the 2003 Rugby World Cup where the then Telstra Stadium hosted the opening game, two other groups games, both semi-finals, the third-place play-off and final matches of the competition. In the first semi-final on 15 November 2003, Australia beat New Zealand 22–10 and then in the second semi-final the following day England beat France 24–7. In the final, on 22 November, England beat Australia 20–17 in extra time.
The reconfiguration of the venue into a geometric stadium shape (a rectangle with semicircles at either end) rather than a true rectangle shape to allow for use by Aussie rules and cricket has drawn criticism from fans of both rugby codes and soccer. Many are critical that the ends of the stadium are too far away from the rectangle shaped pitches used for the three sports and that viewing from those sections has been compromised as a result. It has also drawn criticism from Sydney Swans fans and players as well as commentators for its distance from the Sydney CBD, poor surface due to the frequent use of movable seating and poor attendances.
In September 2015, the New South Wales Government announced that within a decade the stadium would be upgraded. Details about the upgrade are scant, but the stadium might be fitted with a retractable roof.
Various sporting codes have used this ground on a regular basis. The National Rugby League is the most regular tenant of the ground, while Rugby Union internationals, Association Football internationals and Australian Rules Football are all played at the ground. ANZ Stadium hosts the following:
On 26 October 2002, Stadium Australia played host to Motorcycle speedway with the Speedway Grand Prix of Australia, the 10th and final round of the 2002 Speedway Grand Prix World Championship series. A temporary 400 metres (440 yards) long track was used with American rider Greg Hancock winning the GP from England's Scott Nicholls and Australia's own future triple World Champion Jason Crump who's third place was enough to lift him to third in the championship standings above fellow Aussie Ryan Sullivan. Also representing Australia at the meeting were Leigh Adams who finished 4th in the World Championship, and meeting wildcard riders Jason Lyons and Mick Poole. The event attracted approximately 31,500 fans.