ANZ Stadium launches practice facility

The Stadium will play host to back-to-back NRL and AFL blockbusters at the same time the Sydney Royal Easter Show enjoys its peak Easter days.

Arch-rivals the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs will clash on Good Friday before the GWS GIANTS play cross-city opponents the Sydney Swans in AFL’s battle of the Bridge on Saturday.

Big-name players from the football codes – NRL, AFL, rugby union and football – as well as the Sydney Thunder Big Bash League team and the world champion Australian women’s cricket team were on hand to celebrate the grand opening of ANZ Stadium’s new $2 million practice facility.

GWS Giants duo Dylan Shiel, former Socceroo and current Sydney FC star Brett Emerton, Waratahs flyer Drew Mitchell, Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson, Souths’ hardman Luke Burgess, young and Adam Treloar, women’s cricket sensations Ellyse Perry and Lisa Sthalekar, and Ashes bolter Adam Zampa and Gurinder Sandhu took part in the first activities on the field – along with 40 children from Glenwood High School.

Former Swans captain Craig Bolton, the deputy general manager of AFL NSW/ACT, was also on hand as western Sydney development officers from AFL, rugby league and cricket conducted skills clinics with the schoolchildren.

“ANZ Stadium is a great facilitiy in it’s own right but this is just another addition that proves how world-class it is,” Bolton said.

“It adds to the existing infrastructure that we’ve got in NSW which is terrific. So whether you’re a player or a supporter of AFL, there’s some of the best facilities in the world to enjoy.

“As a supporter you could potentially go and see players warming up or cooling down and see it first-hand … and it means as a player, the Swans and the GIANTS are continually getting access to some of the best facilities in the world.”

Rival CEOs Todd Greenberg (Bulldogs) and Shane Richardson (Rabbitohs) and NRL legends Steve Mortimer and Mario Fenech also joined the opening, with the official duties carried out by ANZ Stadium managing director Daryl Kerry and Sydney Olympic Park Authority CEO, Alan Marsh.

Mr Kerry said the new facility will not only be used by sporting teams but by school and community groups who visit Sydney Olympic Park.

“While the new facility was primarily built for cricket, it will also be used as a warm-up area for the football codes during winter – with major rugby league, rugby union, soccer and AFL matches all played at the Stadium,” Mr Kerry said.

“The facility will also be used in a variety of ways to enhance the overall ANZ Stadium event experience, including fan engagement activities . . . that may include kids, mums and dads kicking the footy around before matches. It will also be used for corporate and promotional activities.”

The new flood-lit facility features a large 50-by-35 metre artificial grass training area, with drop-in pitches, purpose-built bowlers’ run-ups and eight full length natural turf cricket pitches.

The cricket practice pitches will replace the four half pitches that are currently in the north-west corner of the arena and strengthen the Stadium’s credentials as a first-class domestic and international cricket venue.

The new facility is located directly opposite Gate L and will further cement ANZ Stadium’s position as a world-class venue.