Football Park, formerly known commercially as AAMI Stadium, was an Australian rules football stadium located in West Lakes, a western suburb of Adelaide, the state capital of South Australia, Australia. It was built in 1973 by the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and opened in 1974. Until the end of the 2013 AFL season, it served as the home ground of the Adelaide Football Club and the Port Adelaide Football Club. It also hosted all SANFL finals from 1974 to 2013. Prior to its demolition that was completed in March 2019, it had a seating capacity of 51,240.
Football Park pictured in April 2007, prior to demolition
|Former names||AAMI Stadium|
|Location||Turner Drive, West Lakes, |
Adelaide, South Australia
|Record attendance||66,897 (Sturt v Port Adelaide, 1976 SANFL Grand Final)|
|Field size||Football: 165m x 135m|
|Construction cost||A$6.6m (A$60m in 2016 dollars)|
|Adelaide Football Club|
(AFL, matches 1991–2013, training ground 1991–present)
Port Adelaide Football Club (AFL, 1997–2013)
Woodville-West Torrens Eagles (SANFL, 1991–1992)
Glenelg Football Club (SANFL, 1991)
Ground was broken for Football Park in 1971, giving the SANFL its own venue after years of playing out of the Adelaide Oval, which was controlled by the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA). Due to ongoing conflicts with the SACA, the SANFL had wanted to leave Adelaide Oval and move into their own home stadium for a number of years, finally settling on the undeveloped swampland at West Lakes in 1970 (the same year as the similarly designed, but larger VFL Park opened in Melbourne).
The stadium hosted its first football game on 4 May 1974, an SANFL match between Central District and North Adelaide. The first goal was kicked by North Adelaide's Barry Hearl, but Central District won the game defeating North Adelaide by 30 points.
Intended to have a capacity of around 80,000, Football Park was originally standing room only in the outer (along with the usual crush barriers) with bench seating in the main grandstand and ended up with a capacity of approximately 62,000. Bench seating was gradually added to the stadium's bowl section, and the concourse roof was finished in 1982, by which time the grounds capacity had settled to around 55,000. The new roof gave the outer of the ground a limited number of under cover seats, as well as opening up more space for advertising boards. Television screens showing the games in progress at the ground are also in place under the concourse roof, as well as in the members area.
After long-term negotiations with the State Government and the local council, as well as local residents, the SANFL started building the ground's four light towers in late 1983. These were finished by early 1984, with all night games in Adelaide moving from the suburban grounds (Norwood Oval and Thebarton Oval) to league headquarters for the next 16 years. Following the Adelaide Crows joining the AFL in 1991, and being joined by Port Adelaide in 1997, new corporate "superboxes" were built on top of the southern concourse, stretching from the scoreboard around to the members grandstand. The following year (1998) the stadium got its first video superscreen, although the old scoreboard located above the tunnel in the south-east corner remained in place as the main scoreboard.
After years of speculation, Football Park's members grandstand was extended in 2001 with the opening of the new Northern Stand, opening up 7,000 new seats. The new grandstand was fitted with individual plastic seats, and the rest of the stadium was finally brought into line with this in 2004, seeing an end to the unpopular aluminum bench seating, and dropping capacity to 51,240.
In addition to football, Football Park has also hosted cricket matches, including the Kerry Packer-run World Series Cricket competition of the late 1970s when the upstart competition was shut out of major grounds such as the Adelaide Oval. The stadium has also hosted International rules football games between Australia and Ireland, as well as being used for rock concerts. Football Park also hosted a National Soccer League game during the early-mid 1990s.
The record football crowd at Football Park was 66,897 when Sturt defeated Port Adelaide in the 1976 SANFL Grand Final, though police believe the attendance figure was closer to 80,000. To avoid a crush, spectators were allowed on the field between the boundary line and the fence, and thousands were turned away by police as the house full signs went up.
Adelaide and Port Adelaide played their last home games at Football Park in 2013, with both clubs moving to the Adelaide Oval in 2014. The record Showdown attendance at Football Park was recorded at Showdown XIX on 10 September 2005 when 50,521 saw the Crows defeat the Power by 83 points in the 2005 First Semi Final. A pre-season match was played at the ground between the two sides in March 2015, in what was the last official event to be held at the ground.
Adelaide still use the playing surface as its primary training round, and have their administrative facilities based next to the oval.
Major artists held concerts at Football Park, including ABBA, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Dire Straits, Electric Light Orchestra, U2, The Rolling Stones, Elton John with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on 21 November 1986 and Robbie Williams. Bon Jovi performed at Football Park in December 2013. One Direction performed at Football Park in February 2015.
|Five highest attended events|
|1||1976 SANFL Grand Final||Football match||66,897 - 76,000||25 September 1976|
|2||U2 (and Kanye West)||Concert||60,000 / 58,000+||16 November 2006|
|3||1974 SANFL Grand Final||Football match||58,113||28 September 1974|
|4||1977 SANFL Grand Final||Football match||56,717||24 September 1977|
|5||Dire Straits||Concert||55,000+||12 February 1986|
After it was built, Football Park underwent several additions including:
- In 1982 the outer concourse was completed during the SANFL season giving a limited number of permanent undercover seats for the general public. The stadium was also converted to an all-seater stadium with the installation of aluminium bench seating on the outer's lower deck which had previously been concrete terraces (the seating had already been installed in the members area which included the main grandstand). This reduced capacity at the time from 62,000 to around 55,000.
- In 1984 the light towers were installed. The first game played under lights at the stadium was an Escort Cup match which saw South Adelaide defeat Glenelg 10.9 (69) to 7.8 (50). The game was Glenelg champion Peter Carey's 300th game of SANFL league football. To appease the local residents, night games at Football Park had a 10:30pm curfew.
- In 1985 alcohol was banned from the seats. Alcohol could only be consumed in the bar areas. In 2009, this ban was removed.
- In 1997 the stadium opened new corporate facilities, with Superboxes at the southern end of the ground extending from the outer side tunnel to the members grandstand.
- In 1998 the superscreen was added to the NE side of the ground.
- In 2001 the balcony upper level of seats was extended towards the Northern End of the ground giving an extra 7,000 seats to the stadium.
- In 2004 the existing aluminium bench seating on the lower deck was replaced with plastic bucket seats leaving the seating capacity at 51,240.
- In 2007:
- The sound system was upgraded with new plastic PA speakers installed all around the stadium.
- A new and louder siren was installed.
- Another superscreen was installed at the southern end of the ground to aid viewers sitting under the existing superscreen on the northeast side of the ground.
- A new scoreboard was built under the existing superscreen.
Proposed upgrades to the stadium were abandoned following confirmation that both Adelaide and Port Adelaide would move matches to the newly redeveloped Adelaide Oval, which has a capacity of 53,583 and is located very close to the city. Adelaide continue to use the oval as their headquarters, and have their own clubrooms and state-of-the-art training facilities on the eastern side of the ground, a similar arrangement to what fellow AFL club Hawthorn have with VFL Park in Melbourne.
The SANFL Grand Final was moved back to its original home at the Adelaide Oval from 2014. The SANFL announced a long-term development plan for the precinct in November 2014 with property developers Commercial & General for A$71 million. It was announced that the land will be redeveloped for 1,600 new houses, a library, retail area and a five-storey, 120-bed aged care facility. Following the announcement, most of the seating at the ground was removed (in 2016 and 2017) and given to local football clubs, before demolition work on the grandstands began in June 2018. The demolition of the grandstands was completed in March 2019.
The playing surface covered approximately 2 hectares, with the average distance between the boundary line and fence being six metres. The ground dimensions from fence to fence were 177 m × 145 m (194 yd × 159 yd) and the playing area inside the boundary lines was 165 m × 135 m (180 yd × 148 yd) and the goals ran north to south. There was a drop of approximately 1.5 metres from the centre of the ground to the fence to help with drainage, leaving the ground with a distinctive hump.
- "Inflation Calculator". RBA. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- "SANFL: About AAMI Stadium". Retrieved 21 April 2014.
- Norton, Daniel (2013). Port Adelaide Football Club - 2013 Season Guide. Adelaide: Bowden Group. p. 28.
- "FINAL FAREWELL FOR ENCORE | SANFL". sanfl.com.au. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
- McDonald, Patrick (11 November 2006). "U2 to lead the charge". AdelaideNow. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
- Frangos, Daniela. "One Direction, AAMI Stadium - Rip It Up". Rip It Up. Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
- Although the official number is 66,897, due to the press of a large number of fans attempting to enter the oval, an estimated 10,000 fans were admitted free. Realising the potential danger of such a large crowd, officials allowed many fans to watch the game from inside the fence on the perimeter of the oval.
- "Billboard Boxscore — Concert Grosses". Billboard. 119 (30): 32. 28 July 2007. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- UK singer Adele set to break the record for the largest Adelaide concert, with the crowd tipped to surpass 60,000, Adelaide Now, March 7, 2017
- Henderson, Nick; Humphreys, Bernard (3 June 2008). "Rann's AAMI upgrade rejected by the people". AdelaideNow. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
- Keller, Candice (21 December 2008). "SANFL promises AAMI Stadium upgrade will go ahead". The Advertiser.
- "Football Park precinct sold to developer by SA Football Commission". ABC News. 28 November 2014.
- "Demolition commences at Adelaide's Football Park". Australian Leisure Management. 1 June 2018.
- "Crows training sessions to need 'poo patrol' once Football Park is opened to the dogs". ABC News. 29 May 2018.
- "Farewell to Football Park as demolition nears completion". Adelaide Now. 3 March 2019.
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