Willows Sports Complex

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1300SMILES Stadium[1]
1300SMILES Stadium.jpg
14-05-2005-dairy farmers at dusk.JPG
Former names Willows Sports Complex
Stockland Stadium
Malanda Stadium
Dairy Farmers Stadium
Location Golf Links Drive, Kirwan, Queensland
Coordinates 19°18′58″S 146°42′43″E / 19.31611°S 146.71194°E / -19.31611; 146.71194Coordinates: 19°18′58″S 146°42′43″E / 19.31611°S 146.71194°E / -19.31611; 146.71194
Owner Queensland Government
Operator Major Sports Facilities Authority
Capacity 26,500
Surface Grass
Construction
Broke ground 1994
Opened 1994
Construction cost A$11.03 million (2005-06 redevelopment)
Tenants
North Queensland Cowboys (1995-present)
North Queensland Fury (2009-2011)

The Willows Sports Complex, currently known as 1300SMILES Stadium due to sponsorship rights,[1] is a grass football stadium situated in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. It has historically been used mainly for rugby league, and is the home ground of the National Rugby League club the North Queensland Cowboys. It has also been used for rugby union and from 2009-2011 was the home of A-League soccer team the North Queensland Fury. For sponsorship reasons, the stadium was previously known as Stockland Stadium (1995–98), Malanda Stadium (1998) and Dairy Farmers Stadium (1999–2013).

History[edit]

Willows Sporting Complex[edit]

Prior to 1995, the stadium site was occupied by the Willows Sporting Complex. It hosted trotting paceway nights, and was the main pacing venue for the Townsville District. With the admission of the North Queensland Cowboys to the Australian Rugby League competition in 1995, the Willows site was transformed into a basic rugby league venue with a western grandstand as well as eastern side terraces. The northern and southern ends were sloped grass hills.

Stockland Stadium[edit]

The Willows Sports Complex was renamed 'Stockland Stadium' in 1995 through sponsorship linked with the North Queensland Cowboys. A contract was signed by the Stockland Trust Group for three years giving them the naming rights of the venue. The Joint Board of the old Willows Sports Complex (Townsville City Council and Thuringowa City Council) sub-leased the facility to the Cowboys Rugby League Football Limited, who manage the venue on a day-to-day basis. The first stage of development was funded by a combination of borrowings by the Joint Board, the Queensland Government Grants and a considerable amount of community and business donations.

The stadium was first used for any type of football for the North Queensland Cowboys first home game which attracted a crowd of 23,156, a good crowd by Australian Rugby League (now National Rugby League) standards. Crowds continued to push the capacity of the stadium and in 1996 the Stockland Stadium was renovated to include both northern and southern seating, where previously there had been only standing room.

Stockland ended their sponsorship after three years, which paved the way for the current sponsor, Dairy Farmers Limited.

Malanda Stadium[edit]

The North Queensland Cowboys home stadium sponsor Stockland finished up their sponsorship contract seeing out their three year deal. A new sponsorship deal was drawn up by the Cowboys, with local milking organisation Dairy Farmers who owned the local North Queensland milking dairy in the Tablelands. Season 1998 saw the stadium renamed with a new sponsorship deal 'Malanda Stadium'. But after its opening season the Dairy Milk corporation felt it more appropriate to rename the stadium 'Dairy Farmers Stadium', after Dairy Farmers bought out the Malanda Milk corporation.

Dairy Farmers Stadium[edit]

Many stages of redevelopment were taken on and gradually completed over the Cowboys growing success. The venue had changed from a disused Harness Racing facility to the current complex. The management and operation of the stadium was handed over to Stadiums Queensland in December 2003 in the hope for more cash inflow and government spending.

In 2005 the eastern terraces were extended, a new replay screen invested, public address system installed, 30 more corporate boxes and upgraded catering facilities as part of the funding injection. The lighting facilities were upgraded for night time broadcasts. 2006 saw the eastern, northern and southern grandstands receiving even further upgrades with the fitting of extra seating and the eastern terrace was extended completely taking over the old eastern hill.

Two of Papua New Guinea's 2008 Rugby League World Cup Group A games were played at Dairy Farmers Stadium, one against England and the other against Australia.

During the 2011 NRL season a capacity crowd attended Darren Lockyer's record-setting 350th NRL match at Dairy Farmer's.[2]

1300SMILES Stadium[edit]

It was announced on 19 February 2013 that the Willows Sports Complex would be renamed to 1300SMILES Stadium as part of a five-year contract starting in 2013.[1]

Proposed Replacement[edit]

A heavily redeveloped stadium featured as part of Australia's 2022 FIFA World Cup bid. The planning for the bid identified several issues with the existing stadium, particularly sub standard facilities, congestion and limited transport access. Stadiums Queensland identified that some form of redevelopment or replacement was necessary regardless of the failed World Cup bid.

In 2011, the Cowboys in conjunction with Stadiums Queensland developed a $185 million plan to replace the ageing Dairy Farmers Stadium. The proposed ground would be located at the Saunders Street QR National site close to the Townsville CBD, as part of an urban renewal plan. The existing QR National rail yards are to be relocated in accordance with the Townsville Port Authority Master Plan 2010-2040.[3]

The proposed ground is to seat 30,000 fans, including two 450 seat function rooms, 100 open air corporate boxes and 25 enclosed boxes.

Attendance records[edit]

Crowd Date Event Sport
30,302 29 April 1999 North Queensland Cowboys v. Brisbane Broncos Rugby league
30,250 8 August 1998 North Queensland Cowboys v. Brisbane Broncos Rugby league
30,122 5 April 1997 North Queensland Cowboys v. Brisbane Broncos Rugby league

Uses[edit]

Rugby league[edit]

1300SMILES Stadium is predominantly used as a rugby league ground, being the home ground of the North Queensland Cowboys in the National Rugby League competition, and the North Queensland Young Guns in the Queensland Cup competition. The stadium has also hosted an Australian Test match against Papua New Guinea in 2000, an Australian XIII match in 2005, the Super League World 9's tournament in 1997 and charity fixtures with State of Origin Legend matches and Australia Legends v New Zealand Legends. It also hosted England vs Papua New Guinea in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

With 2012 being an Olympic year and the games being held in London, the annual Rugby League Four Nations, usually held at the end of the NRL season, was not scheduled as a result. This has resulted in an end of year test between Australia and New Zealand being scheduled to be held at the Dairy Farmers Stadium on 13 October for its first international match since the 2008 World Cup. Tickets for the game are set to go on sale at 10am on 25 July through Ticketek.[4][5]

Rugby union[edit]

The stadium was first used for first class rugby union when the touring British and Irish Lions team played a Queensland President's XV team in 2001. In 2003 a number of matches, which involved Japan in the Rugby Union World Cup were played at the ground, averaging a crowd of 19,249.[1]. On 12 May 2006 the Queensland Reds played a Super 14 match at Dairy Farmers Stadium in front of a crowd of 10,580.[2] In June 2007 the stadium hosted Australia A and Japan in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup.

Soccer[edit]

  • Australian Olyroos soccer friendly.
  • In 2009, 1300SMILES Stadium became home to Townsville's new club, the North Queensland Fury who played in the A-League, the nation's premier soccer competition. Their licence was revoked in March 2011.

Other[edit]

Rugby League Test Matches[edit]

List of rugby league Test and World Cup matches played at the venue.[6]

Test# Date Result Attendance
1 7 October 2000 Australia def. Papua New Guinea 82-0 21,000
2 25 October 2008* England def. Papua New Guinea 32-22 10,780
3 8 November 2008* Australia def. Papua New Guinea 46-6 16,239
4 13 October 2012 Australia def. New Zealand 18-10 26,497

* Matches played as part of the 2008 World Cup.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]