Newcastle International Sports Centre
Logo from January 2012
Main (western) grandstand
|Full name||Hunter International Sports Centre|
|Former names||International Sports Centre (1970–91)
Marathon Stadium (1992–2001)
EnergyAustralia Stadium (2001–10)
Ausgrid Stadium (2011)
|Location||New Lambton, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia|
|Opened||10 April 1970|
|Operator||Venues NSW (Hunter Venues)|
|Newcastle Knights (NRL) (1988–present)
Hunter Eagles (ABL) (1994–1998)
Newcastle Jets FC (A-League) (2000–present)
2015 AFC Asian Cup
Hunter Stadium is a multi-purpose sports stadium located in Newcastle, Australia. The ground is home to the Newcastle Knights (National Rugby League) and Newcastle Jets FC (A-League). It is owned by the New South Wales government and administered by the Hunter Region Sporting Venues Authority. Due to past sponsorship deals, the ground has been previously known as Marathon Stadium, EnergyAustralia Stadium and Ausgrid Stadium. Newcastle International Sports Centre is also known as Newcastle Stadium when in use during AFC competitions due to conflicting sponsorship reasons.
Work began on the stadium on 1 December 1967, and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 10 April 1970. It was originally known as the International Sports Centre, and is still part of the ISC complex to this day. The playing surface back then was originally oval shaped to allow both codes of rugby, soccer and cricket to be able to make use of it.
The Knights secured a lease on the stadium in 1986, and converted it from an oval to a rectangle layout. During the 1988 Great Britain Lions tour, the Newcastle Knights, in their first season, hosted a match at the ground.
In 1992, local tyre outlet Marathon Tyres became the naming rights sponsor for the stadium, and it was renamed Marathon Stadium. Towards the end of 2001, energy supplier EnergyAustralia took over naming rights, and thus the stadium became EnergyAustralia Stadium. In February 2011 it was announced that the stadium would be renamed to "Ausgrid Stadium" after EnergyAustralia was renamed "Ausgrid".
Before redevelopment, the stadium had a capacity of 28,000, including 5,000 in the main grandstand. The ground attendance record for a sporting event is 32,642, which was set when the Knights took on the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in July 1995. Despite a lack of incidents, police subsequently asked for the allowed capacity to be lowered for reasons of safety.
Following the retirement of former Knights captain Andrew Johns, the new eastern grandstand was renamed The Andrew Johns Stand in honour of Johns in front of a packed crowd before the Knights vs Brisbane Broncos NRL match on Sunday 22 April 2007.
The name (Newcastle International Sports Centre) is used primarily by those who wish to mention stadiums by original names, such as non-commercial organisations like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and those with other corporate interests such as FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation.
The stadium underwent redevelopment during the years 2003–05, funded mostly by local and state government grants.
Factors that brought on the redevelopment included:
- non-compliance of National Rugby League (NRL) stadium criteria, especially the dressing rooms;
- failure to attract major sporting events to the area, specifically the 2003 Rugby World Cup;
- inadequate and ageing spectator and corporate facilities;
- covered seating capacity well below best practice and NRL standards;
- minimal areas within the grandstand to increase members' patronage both during a sporting event and on non-match-days;
- poor facilities for media officials;
- unsatisfactory temporary spectator facilities to the north and south of the western stand;
- the perceived need for the incumbent State Labor government to contribute to the public infrastructure in a region of safe seats.
The first stage of the redevelopment was completed in early 2004. This consisted of;
- The construction of the lower level of the Eastern Stand (brought into operation for the 2004 NRL season and Anzac Test between Australia and New Zealand). This level holds 7,700 people.
- The relocation of corporate boxes and seating to the North and South stands.
The second stage of construction began in 2004 and was completed in 2005. This consisted of:
- The construction of the Eastern Stand's second level of seating and corporate boxes;
- a new video screen; and
- remedial work for the Western Grandstand, including updating the media facilities.
On 1 April 2008 the federal government confirmed $10m towards the development of the Western Grandstand. This is in addition to the $30m commitment from the state government. This is a critical step for the stadium's development for the upgrade to be in by 2011. The A$40 million will contribute to an expansion of the stadium's capacity to eventually hold over 40,000 as well as general improvements in the stadiums facilities.
From 2008–10 the stadium is being upgraded again to around 33 000 seats, with a hope for the stadium to be involved in the 2015 Asian Cup and 2018 World Cup should Australia be the host of those tournaments. As part of the announcement, Morris Iemma stated that the capacity of 33,000 can be increased to the 40,000 necessary for World Cup Hosting, through temporary seating. The total cost of the upgrade is $60 million, with $50 million from the state government and $10 million from the Federal Government. Although construction will take place during both the Newcastle Knights and Newcastle Jets seasons, developers have stated that there will be minimal effect on attendances due to the staged approach.
The stadium development is being carried out over four stages.
- Stage 1 (now completed) included dressing, warm up and medical rooms, with showers, toilets, ice baths and 855-seats of the spectator concourse in the stadium's south-west.
- Stage 2 (now completed) replicates Stage 1 on the northern side of the Western Grandstand and also included the main western stand's lower concourse.
- Stage 3 (now completed) demolished the old western Grandstand and is replacing it with one similar to the eastern stand.
- Stage 4 (undertaking preparation) will involve building the northern and southern ends of the ground, replacing the grass hills with seated areas.
In October 2011 it hosted a rugby league one-off test match between Australia and New Zealand. This event set a new ground attendance record for a sporting event of 32,890.
During the National Soccer League competition, three clubs have played their home ground games at this stadium. They are Newcastle KB United (1978–84); Newcastle Rosebud United (1984–86) and Newcastle United (2000–04). The NSL competition folded in 2004.
The venue will host various matches in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
The Hunter Eagles were formed for the 1994–95 Australian Baseball League season after purchasing the Sydney Wave's license. The Eagles played in the Australian Baseball League until the end of the 1997–98 season.
- Goffet, Neil (18 February 2011). "EnergyAustralia stadium to change name". The Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
- "Newcastle Stadium, NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard extract". New South Wales Government Publisher. 27 June 2002. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
- "Newcastle Stadium, NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard extract". New South Wales Government Publisher. 28 May 2002. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
- "Protester crash-tackled by Iemma minder". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 March 2007.
- 'Funding powers development of stadium' – Department of Health and Ageing
- Group's goal for growing stadium – Local News – News – General – The Herald
- Davutovic, David (5 April 2008). "Sydney fights Melbourne for the right to host World Cup". The Daily Telegraph.
- State's $20m grand stand – Local News – News – General – The Herald
- $20m to create a field of dreams – Local News – News – General – The Herald
- "Images of Stage 1 of 2008 Energy Australia Stadium redevelopment".
- "The Clubs". pflintoff.com. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- Official site
- Newcastle International Sports Centre at Austadiums
- EnergyAustralia Stadium page at newcastleknights.com.au