Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Suburban stadiums hold a special place in the hearts of many Rugby League fans, as they stand as a representation of yesteryear’s glory days, and today we’ll be ranking them from worst to best.
In our rankings we’ll be taking into account the overall experience fans can expect if they were to attend a game there today and not the historical influence of the ground.
Home to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Belmore Oval has made a return to the National Rugby League in recent years, generally hosting a game once or twice a season.
While Bulldogs fans attend the “Back to Belmore” games in droves, likely for nostalgic reasons, the gameday experience can be an uncomfortable one depending on where you sit.
Reports and reviews have emerged of seats being situated too close together, meaning many supporters are cramped and find it hard to leave their seat if need be while a game is ongoing.
For that reason, Belmore Oval finds itself last on this list.
Campbelltown Stadium is by most accounts a fine complex to watch Rugby League at, however, the ground finds itself so low on this list due to often not being able to draw bigger crowds.
Which when you consider the fact that there is a train station across the road, making the ground easily accessible, this is a real shame.
The stadium also boasts the Western Suburbs Leagues Club next door, yet they are still failing to get fans in the stands which affects the atmosphere at the ground.
Putting Leichhardt Oval so low on this list will be controversial to say the least, as many see this ground as the quintessential suburban stadium, but we must keep in mind that we are looking at the ground as it is today.
Like Campbelltown Stadium, Leichhardt Oval is one of three home grounds of the Wests Tigers.
One big issue people have had with the oval recently is the parking situation.
The lack of adequate parking creates an inconvenience for match goers, as many people find they have to park away from the complex and walk or pay to use somebody’s driveway.
Leichhardt Oval’s saving grace is it’s drawing power.
The ground doesn’t necessarily sell out every time a game is played there but does tend to draw bigger crowds than other suburban stadiums that only host a small number of games.
PointsBet Stadium or “Shark Park” is the home of the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks.
This stadium has been around since 1960; however, has failed to gain the same significance in Rugby League as pretty much any other stadium on this list, and to this day Sharks supporters probably wouldn’t mind if the club up and moved to a new home ground and never played there again.
The stadium itself is fine to watch Rugby League at, but fails to host a decent atmosphere and attendance over the past decade has been consistently poor
Into the top three now, Brookvale Oval, for the most part, is a great place to watch a game of Rugby League and generally still draws a decent crowd.
A new grandstand which has recently begun construction will give the ground a boost, although the current stands could do with an upgrade too.
Rampant reports that the surface of the field is not of acceptable quality is a big reason as to why Brookvale Oval is not higher on this list, as well as the fact that there are no train lines near the complex, with most fans not in the local area having to catch a ferry as apart of their travels to the venue.
Panthers stadium is an easily accessible ground for locals with parking at the stadium and the leagues club across the road.
It is a great place to watch Rugby League at and in a regular season, hosts all but one of Penrith’s home games.
The ground could do with an upgrade, especially to its amenities and facilities, but the stands, hills and field itself are fine.
Recent reports suggest Panthers Stadium will be renovated which will certainly make the complex even better.
NETSTRATA JUBILEE STADIUM
Out of all the suburban stadiums in the National Rugby League today, Kogarah takes the cake for the best to watch a game at.
The ground easily boasts the best seating situation of any suburban ground in the game, with a set up that still allows for a good atmosphere even if the stadium is not full, and is down the road from Carlton train station, making it easy to get to the ground itself.
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium is the best example of a modern suburban stadium that all other grounds should aspire to replicate.