Canberra Stadium

Canberra Stadium, known also as Bruce Stadium (for sponsorship reasons it is officially known as GIO Stadium Canberra, or simply GIO Stadium) is a facility primarily used for rugby league, soccer and rugby union games, located adjacent to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, the capital of Australia. The GIO Stadium Canberra is the largest sports venue by capacity in Canberra.

GIO Stadium Canberra
Canberra Stadium logo.svg
Former namesCanberra Stadium
Bruce Stadium
National Athletics Stadium
LocationBruce, ACT
Coordinates35°15′0″S 149°6′10″E / 35.25000°S 149.10278°E / -35.25000; 149.10278Coordinates: 35°15′0″S 149°6′10″E / 35.25000°S 149.10278°E / -35.25000; 149.10278
OwnerAustralian Sports Commission
Record attendance28,753 – Brumbies vs Crusaders, 2004 Super 12 Final
ArchitectPhillip Cox & Partners

Canberra Raiders (NRL) (1990–present)
ACT Brumbies (Super Rugby) (1996–present)

Canberra City SC (NSL) (1977–86)
Canberra Cosmos (NSL) (1995–2001)
2015 AFC Asian Cup

Other Tenants

Canberra Bushrangers (ABL) (1993–95)


The facility was designed by architect Philip Cox[2] and constructed by Leighton Contractors.[3]

In 1977, it was the venue for the Pacific Conference Games, and was also was the venue for the 4th IAAF World Cup in Athletics. At the latter meet, the still-current world record for the women's 400m was recorded by East German Marita Koch, and a world record for the women's 4 × 100 m relay was set by East Germany, which stood until the 2012 London Olympic Games.

In the late 1980s, the running track was removed and the warm-up track next door upgraded. New offices, seating, and photo-finish facilities were added. In the 1990 NSWRL season, the reigning NSWRL premiers the Canberra Raiders moved to Bruce Stadium from Seiffert Oval in Queanbeyan, their home ground since entering the NSWRL in 1982. The Raiders won their second straight premiership in 1990.

The removal of the athletics track meant that Australian rules football games, more specifically those of the Australian Football League (AFL), could be played at the ground. In 1995, an AFL match for premiership points was contested between the West Coast Eagles and Fitzroy. There were also a number of pre-season AFL games played at the venue, mostly featuring the Sydney Swans.

Also around that time, a cricket pitch was placed in the centre of the ground as an experiment, and a day/night one-day cricket match was played between two local teams before a small crowd. Regular cricket matches on the ground did not eventuate.

Sydney FC playing Newcastle at Canberra Stadium in 2006

Further renovations occurred in 1997, in preparation for staging soccer matches as part of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, which shrank the size of the playing field, preventing any future Australian rules football games being played there. The final cost of the renovations was more than seven times what had been originally anticipated by the Territory government of the time, and the subsequent controversy ended the career of then Chief Minister Kate Carnell.[citation needed] During the lead-up, unseasonal snow fell on 28 May 2000, during a match between the Raiders and the Wests Tigers, the only such occasion in National Rugby League history, with the snow causing frost damage to the turf intended for the Olympic soccer tournament.

Olympic soccer in 2000 initiated a stadium facelift, converting the playing surface from oval to rectangular and bringing the crowd closer to the action.[4] It is now an all-seater rectangular stadium with two main grandstands on either side of the playing field. The major disadvantage of that revamp was that the stadium could no longer host AFL games. All top-class cricket and Australian rules football games in Canberra are now staged at the 15,000-capacity Manuka Oval.

A 2008 Rugby League World Cup game between Scotland and France was played at Canberra Stadium, the first ever rugby league test played at the venue. France defeated Scotland 36–16.

In 2009, there was an A-League bid from Canberra that, if successful would have seen an A-League soccer team play at the stadium starting with the 2010–11 season. However, the League decided that the new teams would be Sydney Rovers FC (which dissolved due to financial problems) and Melbourne Heart FC.

A new video screen was installed at the southern end of the stadium in March 2020.[5]


The stadium is currently owned by the Australian Government through the Australian Sports Commission and leased to the Australian Capital Territory Government. While the current lease is due to expire in 2010, the ACT Government is seeking ownership of the stadium through a land transfer with the Australian Government.

Seating and capacityEdit

Capacity is a nominal all-seated 25,011, the largest crowd being 28,753 for the 2004 Super 12 Final. The main grandstand is named after Canberra Raiders and Australian rugby league player Mal Meninga, and a statue of another Raiders and Australian league representative Laurie Daley adorns the main grandstand entrance.

Unveiling of the Gregan-Larkham stand at Canberra Stadium on 28 April 2007.

The eastern grandstand was named the Gregan/Larkham Grandstand on 28 April 2007, after Brumbies and Australia rugby union greats George Gregan and Stephen Larkham. Both ended their international careers after the 2007 Rugby World Cup as the two most-capped players in Wallabies history (at that time), with Gregan at a world-record 139 and Larkham at 102.

Crowd recordsEdit

Attendance Date Event
28,753 22 May 2004 2004 Super 12 FinalACT Brumbies vs Canterbury Crusaders
27,489 27 May 2000 2000 Super 12 FinalACT Brumbies vs Canterbury Crusaders
26,567 27 September 2019 2019 NRL Preliminary FinalCanberra Raiders vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
26,476 17 September 2010 2010 NRL Semi FinalCanberra Raiders vs Wests Tigers
25,628 19 April 2013 2013 Anzac TestKangaroos vs Kiwis

Possible replacementEdit

Whilst the stadium suits the needs of its two current primary tenants, as of 2017 it is the smallest Super Rugby stadium and only a medium-sized NRL venue. The stadium itself is approaching 35 years old, and despite modernisations over the years is lacking in certain amenities for fans – especially covered seating.

Additionally, Australia had bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Canberra Stadium does not meet the necessary criteria to host matches. As such, the ACT Government launched a study examining the upgrade or replacement of Canberra Stadium, with options ranging from increasing capacity and enclosing the current facility, to completely re-configuring the current stadium to an oval for cricket and Australian rules football and building a state of the art rectangular facility next door.[6]

Citing costs of building multiple facilities as an issue, ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr indicated his preference would be a 'super stadium' built with World Cup standard facilities and capacity, able to be reduced to approximately 30,000 seats after the event. Such a facility would have to incorporate movable seating in order to accommodate all of the major Australian sporting codes.[7]

The official bid for the 2022 World Cup indicated that the 'super stadium' plan was unlikely and the original plan of a new rectangular stadium built next door to the current stadium, with the existing facility re-configured for oval field sports, was considered to be the likely outcome.[8]

After the failed World Cup bid a new rectangular covered stadium was proposed for Canberra.[9] In 2013 the ACT government announced plans to build a 30,000 covered (with a roof similar to Forsyth Barr Stadium) rectangular stadium in the city on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. It would be part of a 15-year significant redevelopment of the foreshore which extends the city to the Eastern Basin. Along with the stadium, as part of the redevelopment there would be apartments, a convention centre and an urban beach.[10] Plans to build a new stadium have, however, been put on hold indefinitely due to the need for funds to compensate local residents over an asbestos home insulation debacle.[11] Plans to construct the new stadium have since been pushed back by a decade.[11]

Other notable eventsEdit

Concerts & International MatchesEdit


  1. ^ "GIO Stadium (Canberra Stadium) - Austadiums". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  2. ^ Bleby, Michael (20 August 2016). "Architect Philip Cox delivers upfront on architecture's deficiencies". Financial Review. Australia. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Bruce Stadium & National Indoor Stadium Precinct / National Athletics Stadium & National Indoor Sports & Training Centre" (PDF). Australian Institute of Architects ACT Chapter: Register of Significant Architecture. Retrieved 4 January 2020.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ 2000 Summer Olympics official report. Archived 9 November 2000 at the Wayback Machine Volume 1. p. 392.
  5. ^ "GIO Stadium Canberra". Facebook. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 July 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Dutton, Chris (3 March 2012). "City promised new stadium with roof by 2020". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  10. ^ Anderson, Larissa Nicholson and Stephanie (26 March 2013). "Stadium, urban beach, convention centre on cards for Canberra CBD". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  11. ^ a b Dutton, Chris (16 September 2014). "Mr Fluffy clean-up and delayed new stadium in Canberra could affect chances of hosting Wallabies Tests". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  12. ^ Ferguson, Shawn Dollin and Andrew. "Bruce Stadium - Bruce Stadium - Rugby League Project". Retrieved 15 October 2016.

External linksEdit