Parramatta Stadium was a sports stadium in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia, 23 kilometres west of Sydney's central business district. The stadium was the home ground of several western Sydney-based sports teams, at the time of closure the most notable were the Parramatta Eels of the National Rugby League and the Western Sydney Wanderers of the A-League.
|Location||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
|Operator||Pirtek Stadium Trust|
|Capacity||24,000 (Venue capacity) |
20,741 (Seating capacity)
|Record attendance||27,918 - Australia vs France, 6 July 1994 (rugby league)|
|Field size||140 x 80 metres|
|Architect||Civil & Civic|
|Parramatta Eels (NRL) (1986–2016) |
Sydney Wave (ABL) (1991–1992)
Sydney Storm (ABL) (1993–1996)
Sydney Tigers (ARL) (1995–1996)
Parramatta Power (NSL) (1999–2004)
Western Sydney Wanderers (A-League) (2012–2016)
Greater Sydney Rams (NRC) (2014–2015)
Cumberland Oval was the local name for the cricket, motor sports and rugby venue that had existed prior to Parramatta Stadium being built, with the area having been used for recreational activities since 1788, the founding year of the British colony in New South Wales.
The stadium also hosted numerous other sporting and cultural events since its opening in 1986. Michael Jackson performed there during his Bad World Tour on 20–21 November 1987, and Paul McCartney concluded the Australian leg of The New World Tour with two shows there on 22–23 March 1993.
In 2015 the NSW Government announced that the stadium would be demolished and replaced, and to that end, Parramatta Stadium was demolished in February 2017, with the new Western Sydney Stadium being built in the same location.
Cumberland Oval was the main sporting venue for the Parramatta District from the mid 19th Century until 1982. It was initially a venue for horse-racing, cricket and athletics then for rugby union from 1879 and rugby league from 1909. Motorsports racing started in 1930 with motorcycles, then speedcars in 1936. Among the famous names who used the oval in their respective sports were English cricketer W. G. Grace, and Australia's triple Formula One World Champion Jack Brabham who raced in midget cars at the Cumberland Speedway in the 1940s.
The first stand at Cumberland Oval was built in 1850 and others followed at various times up to the final stand was built in 1936. Players from the local cricket club erected a two-rail fence around the oval during the 1860s but a solid planked safety barrier was needed for motor cycle racing, although this did not stop several deaths occurring as a result of crashes. The dirt track was originally 18 feet in width until expanded to 30 feet for the speedcars. The boundary fence and track remained in place after all speedway racing ended in 1959.
Some of the early touring English cricket teams played at Cumberland Oval at a time when Parramatta was "way out in the country". The cricket club evolved as Central Cumberland for the initial Sydney Grade Competition in 1893/94. When the nearby King's School moved to North Parramatta during the early 1970s it resulted in the turf pitches being removed and the cricket club moving to the adjacent oval that had been the school's main sports ground. The club now known as the Parramatta District Cricket Club still has Old Kings Oval as its main ground.
The Parramatta Rugby Union club now plays at Granville Rugby Park.
Cumberland Oval was originally is use for rugby league by the Parramatta Iona and Endeavours clubs and the Western Districts representative side. When the Parramatta District Rugby League Club (later known as the Parramatta Eels) was admitted into the NSWRL Premiership in 1947 Cumberland Oval became the club's home ground. The first match was played against Newtown (now Newtown Jets) on 12 April 1947, before a crowd of 6,000. The largest crowd to watch a rugby league match at Cumberland Oval was 22,470 when the Eels took on the South Sydney Rabbitohs on 26 April 1971. Cumberland Oval remained the home ground of the Parramatta Eels until 1981, playing their last match there against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in August in front of their seasons highest home attendance of 18,449 before going on to win their maiden NSWRL Premiership by defeating Newtown 20-11 in the Grand Final at the Sydney Cricket Ground. After losing the 1976 Grand Final 13-10 to Manly, and the 1977 Grand Final replay 22-0 to St George (the original Grand Final was drawn 9-9), 1981 was the first premiership success for the Eels.
As the Parramatta Eels secured their first-ever Premiership, defeating the Newtown Jets in the 1981 Grand Final, wildly jubilant scenes erupted in Parramatta, the Leagues club quickly overflowed with Eels fans celebrating with thousands rallying at nearby Cumberland Oval and, in a frenzy of vandalism, burned the Oval's grandstand to the ground. For a while some junior rugby league matches were played on the unfenced oval before the site was eventually redeveloped. In November 1984 the construction company Civil & Civic won the contract to design and build a new stadium. In November 1985 the stadium was complete, with a rectangular playing area several meters below the Cumberland Oval surface.
On 5 March 1986 the Parramatta Stadium was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. On 16 March the first NSWRL Premiership match was played at the ground with 26,870 in attendance. Parramatta's Steve Sharp scored the ground's first try in the Eels' 36 – 6 victory over the St. George Dragons. The only try for the Dragons came when centre Michael O'Connor fielded an infield kick from Eels front rower Paul Mares and raced 91 metres to score with a flying Eric Grothe only just failing to stop him as he came across in cover.
On 20 May 1990, the 1989–90 National Soccer League Grand Final between western Sydney based clubs Sydney Olympic and the Marconi Stallions was played at the venue. Olympic win the match 2–0 in what was the highest soccer attendance at Parramatta Stadium stands at 26,353.
On 19 June 1992, the Parramatta Eels versus Great Britain Lions game on the Lions 1992 tour of Australasia attracted a crowd of 18,220, the largest non-Test match crowd of the Lions tour, with Parramatta winning 22–16. Prior to the match, Parramatta and Great Britain winger's Lee Oudenryn and Martin Offiah, generally regarded at the time as the fastest player in rugby league, faced off in a Tooheys Blue Label challenge race over 100m (try line to try line). Oudenryn caused what many believed to be a huge upset by defeating Offiah by approximately half a metre.
In December 2002, work began on converting the formerly grassed hill areas (The Brett Kenny Hill and The Peter Sterling Hill) into seated terrace areas (holding 4,500 spectators). This redevelopment reduced the ground's capacity to 21,500, down from the previous capacity of 27,000.
On 23 March 2013, the third A-League Sydney derby saw the highest A-League attendance at Parramatta Stadium, with 19,585 turning out for the occasion, which ended in a 1–1 draw.
Parramatta Stadium announced on 9 October 2013, that for the first time in the history of the stadium that it would take on a naming rights sponsor. Pirtek, a hydraulics company with origins in Western Sydney, are the sponsors of the stadium and the stadium will be known officially as "Pirtek Stadium".
All-Seater expansion & redevelopmentEdit
After the conversion to an all-seater stadium, plans to further expand Parramatta Stadium were originally initiated in May 2007. The Parramatta Stadium Trust announced plans to build a new southern stand with room for 2,700 extra patrons as well as a players change room and gym. The plans were not followed through on and no construction was done.
In 2010, a commission was done to establish a "Master Plan" for the future development the stadium. The master plan, if completed, would have the stadium finish with a capacity of 31,300 seats as well as extensive redevelopment of the facilities at the stadium for players, corporate sponsors, the media and supporters.
On 2 July 2013, the Australian Federal Government, the New South Wales State Government and Parramatta Local Council announced an expansion for the stadium. A pre-existing fund of $8 million for upgrading the stadium was combined with $20 million of new funding. The expansion was expected to increase the capacity of the stadium to 24,700.
Western Sydney Wanderers along with active support group the Red and Black Bloc campaigned for the installation of German style rail seating to enable safe standing in the northern stands as part of the 2015 refurbishment. In 2013, the club imported seven sets of rail seats and worked with Parramatta Stadium to perform a test installation. The proposed installation would have been the first safe seating in the country, in any sport. However, it did move past the planning stage.
In June 2014 the NSW State Government embarked on citywide "Stadium Strategy", intended to cease investment in small suburban grounds, and spend a large amount of money on a small number of new modern facilities. This strategy was developed as the Parramatta Stadium refurbishment completed new corporate hospitality facilities, player facilities, food and drink outlets, bathrooms, training field and gym facilities, all of which were located in the main grandstand. They were completed in mid-2015, while the additional seating at either end of the ground was halted pending a decision on where Parramatta would stand in the new stadium strategy.
In September 2015, the New South Wales Government announced that the stadium would be replaced with a new 30,000 seat venue on the same site, officially named the Western Sydney Stadium. Construction began in 2017 and was completed in April 2019.
Parramatta Stadium's last A-League match was a semi-final between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar where the Wanderers came from a 3-0 deficit to win the game 5-4 in extra time. The Parramatta Eels hosted the final game of first grade rugby league at the ground, defeating St George Illawarra 30-18, with Bevan French scoring three tries in a blowout scoreline.
The final ever game to be played at the ground was the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership NSW grand final between Mounties and Illawarra with Illawarra winning their first and only premiership 21-20.
Between 1999 and 2004, the stadium was home to Parramatta Power, a National Soccer League (NSL) club owned and operated by the Parramatta Leagues Club (owner of the Parramatta Eels rugby league club). With the announcement of the demise of the NSL and the creation of the A-League, the club was wound-up at the end of the 2003–04 season. Parramatta Power contested the last ever NSL Grand Final against Perth Glory at the stadium. The ground hosted seven NSL Grand Final matches, in 1986 (second leg), 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2001 and 2004. In April 2007, Sydney FC played one game in the AFC Champions League against Persik Kediri at Parramatta Stadium. In February 2010, during the 2009–10 A-League season, Sydney FC defeated Perth Glory 3–2. The game had been moved from the Sydney Football Stadium due to the Edinburgh Military tattoo. On 26 July 2012, new A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers announced a five-year deal with Parramatta Stadium, and made its debut with a crowd of 10,458. On 25 October 2014, the stadium hosted the first leg of the 2014 AFC Champions League Final between Western Sydney Wanderers and Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal.
Parramatta Stadium has been used for various rugby league matches such as pre-season Sevens tournaments in 1989 and 1990, and a test match against France in 1994. Parramatta Eels is the main Rugby League team to use this stadium as their home-ground usage in the NRL premiership season. They have been here since 1986. In 1995 and 1996, the ground was also used for the short-lived Sydney Tigers, what became of Balmain Tigers. In 1997 the Sydney Tigers went back to being the Balmain Tigers and moved back to Leichhardt Oval. Also in 1995, the Canterbury Bulldogs team changed their name to 'Sydney Bulldogs', and played their home games at this ground. In 1996, they reverted to their original name and returned to Belmore Oval. Recently the stadium has been used as a host venue for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and the 2010 Four Nations. Two of Ireland's 2008 Rugby League World Cup Group C games were played at Parramatta Stadium: one against Tonga and the other against Samoa. When the Parramatta Eels were playing the ground's eastern grandstand is named the Mick Cronin Stand and the western grandstand, the Ken Thornett Stand in honour of two of the club's leading former players.=
On 18 September 1997 two 1999 Rugby World Cup qualifiers – Western Samoa vs Tonga and Australia vs Fiji—were played at Parramatta Stadium. A number of NSW Rugby Union club matches were played at the ground between 2001 and 2002. Australia A also played a match against Canada in 2002 at Parramatta Stadium. During 2007, Parramatta Stadium was also the home ground for the Western Sydney Rams club side that participated in the now defunct Australian Rugby Championship.
Baseball has also been played at Parramatta Stadium with the Sydney Blues playing home matches there. The Sydney Blues entered the Australian Baseball League in 1992 and played out of Parramatta Stadium to much controversy of having such a short home run fence in right field. The Sydney Blues were later known as the Sydney Storm who also played some games at Parramatta, until the collapse of the Australian Baseball League in 1999.
Parramatta railway station and Parramatta ferry wharf are both approximately 2 km from the stadium. The station is served by trains of the North Shore, Northern & Western Line and Blue Mountains Line. The Cumberland Line also calls at the station, though it only operates for limited hours and only on weekdays. The wharf is served by the Parramatta River ferry route. Westmead railway station is within a 30-minute walk through Parramatta Park.
There is a carpark at the stadium with approximately 300 parking spaces that are reserved for stadium staff, the media, match officials and players. On non-match days this parking is opened to the public. There are multiple public parking areas within walking distance of the stadium. These spaces include Parramatta Pool, several churches and schools in the area, as well as parking being available to members of the Parramatta Eels Leagues Club. In addition to these close parking areas, there are thousands of spaces in the Parramatta area as a whole that are within walking distances or through shuttle buses from Parramatta railway station. Parking can also be found in Westmead near Parramatta Park.
For all major events at the stadium a free shuttle bus service runs from the Parramatta City Centre to Parramatta Stadium. In addition, the Parramatta Loop Shuttle Bus runs every 10 minutes, seven days a week on a continuous loop around the city centre, connecting rail, bus and ferry transport interchanges with local clubs and shops, and other community hubs.
The future Parramatta Light Rail will also service the new stadium through stops in the Parramatta city area.
- The highest crowd to attend a match at Parramatta Stadium was for the rugby league Test match between Australia and France in 1994. This game attracted a crowd of 27,318 fans and was the first test played in Sydney since 1909 that was not played at either the Agricultural Oval (Sydney Showground), Sydney Cricket Ground or the Sydney Football Stadium.
- The highest crowd to attend a match at Parramatta Stadium for a club match was 27,243 (Parramatta Eels versus South Sydney Rabbitohs in round 24 of the 1986 NSWRL season.)
- The highest crowd for a soccer match at Parramatta Stadium was 26,353, which was for the 1990 NSL Grand Final between Sydney Olympic and Marconi Stallions.
- The highest crowd to attend a match at Parramatta Stadium after the redevelopment of the hill areas is 21,141 (Parramatta Eels versus Wests Tigers in round 7 of the 2006 NRL season.)
Rugby league test matchesEdit
List of rugby league test matches played at the stadium.
|1||6 July 1994||Australia def. France 58–0||27,318||First test in Sydney ever played at a suburban ground|
|2||27 October 2008||Tonga def. Ireland 22–20||6,165||Played as part of the 2008 World Cup|
|3||5 November 2008||Ireland def. Samoa 34–16||8,602|
|4||24 October 2010||Samoa def. Tonga 22–6||11,308||Played as a curtain raiser match for the game listed below|
|5||Australia def. Papua New Guinea 42–0||Played as part of the 2010 Four Nations|
|6||7 May 2016||Papua New Guinea def. Fiji 24–22||15,225||Played as part of the 2016 Melanesian Cup|
|7||Samoa def. Tonga 18–6||Played as part of the 2016 Polynesian Cup|
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- "Parramatta Stadium". discoverparramatta.com. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
- "Steve Sharp". yesterdayshero.com.au. SmartPack International. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- Parramatta vs St George - Parramatta Stadium first game
- Parramatta vs Great Britain highlights 1992
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- "Bevan French scores hat-trick of tries as Parramatta Eels beat St George Illawarra 30-18". abc.net.au. 29 August 2016.
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- Venues Confirmed for NSW National Competition Teams, NSW Rugby Retrieved on 27 February 2007
- "Free Parramatta Shuttle Bus". parracity.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Parramatta Stadium results @ Rugby League Project