With 16 teams in the league and the vast majority of them enjoying their own individual home grounds, it’s no surprise that the NRL is played at a host of quality arenas along Australia’s east coast. Stadium Australia in Western Sydney is comfortably the biggest NRL stadium, but only on rare occasions does it get even close to capacity, and it’s not exactly a fan favourite. The grounds below, however, stand in stark contrast, and are the most popular in the league.
1. Suncorp Stadium
The crown jewel of sport in Brisbane, Suncorp Stadium was built more than a century ago and has been home to the Brisbane Broncos for close to two decades. Regarded as the home of Rugby League in Queensland, the venue is able to hold up to 52,500 spectators – a number which it gets very close to any time the State of Origin is played up north.
Having been redeveloped just after the turn of the century, the stadium is now renowned for the proximity it offers spectators in virtually every seat. Despite the size, fans all over Suncorp Stadium are close enough to hear the smack of bodies on the field, and it’s this intimacy that makes it far more popular than the only NRL ground which is able to hold more spectators – the aforementioned ANZ Stadium.
2. Bankwest Stadium
Bankwest Stadium is the new kid on the block as far as NRL grounds are concerned, having only been opened back in April 2019. With a capacity of 30,000, the new home of the Parramatta Eels has rapidly become far more popular than the ground which it replaced. The old arena, known as Parramatta Stadium, held 10,000 less people, and it’s widely accepted that Bankwest Stadium is a huge upgrade.
The two-tiered seating format and steep stands ensures that virtually every seat has a great view of the action, while a couple of fun additional features – like outdoor basketball hoops – are a far cry from the basic stadium which it replaced. And since opening just two years ago, it has rapidly proved its worth – not only is it the home to the Eels, but the Wests Tigers and Canterbury Bulldogs have also used it as an alternate venue, while the A-League’s Western Sydney Wanderers and the Matildas have played here as well.
3. AAMI Park
Melbourne’s sporting district is renowned the world over, so it’s no surprise that the home of the Melbourne Storm ranks pretty highly among the most popular NRL stadiums. AAMI Park sits just across the road from the MCG, and though it might pale in comparative size, it still ranks as one of the biggest stadiums in the NRL.
Melbourne, of course, is far more into its AFL than its NRL, but what the rugby league fans in the city lack in size they more than compensate for in passion. As a result, whenever the Storm play here the crowd is heaving, and the Storm’s sustained success – which again sees them as one of the NRL Premiership favourites in 2021 – in recent years has only helped to consolidate the passionate fanbase that fills this ground.
There are a number of other terrific stadiums used by NRL teams around the country, particularly in Sydney – the likes of Leichhardt Oval, Panthers Stadium and GIO Stadium to name a few. The above three, however, all stand a cut above, and take the cake as the most popular stadiums in the NRL.