Oki Jubilee Stadium

Jubilee Oval (sometimes referred to as Kogarah Oval) is one of two home stadiums used by the St. George Illawarra Dragons team, a rugby league club that plays in Australasia's National Rugby League. The R2K (Return to Kogarah) entity was instrumental in ensuring that NRL matches were played at Kogarah from 2003 onwards. Until 31 October 2008, the ground was known as OKI Jubilee Stadium, when OKI Printing Solutions naming rights contract expired. On 15 January 2009, Jubilee Oval was retained in the new sponsored name of WIN Jubilee Oval.

Located on the Princes Highway in the Sydney suburb of Carlton, it originally hosted its first game of rugby league sometime in 1936 when the Dragons defeated the Newtown Bluebags in an exhibition match. The stadium has undergone several constructions over the years and one is still being planned for the foreseeable future. The first official game was played on 22 April 1950 in which the Dragons lost 17-15.

The ground record attendance for Kogarah was set in May 1975 when St. George took on South Sydney in front of 23,582 fans. In its modern form, the record attendance is 20,847 when the Dragons took on local rivals the Cronulla Sharks in March 2009.

History

Jubilee Oval currently stands on part of the original grant of 87 acres (350,000 m2) awarded on 23 December 1853 to Archibald McNab. Edmund English purchased the grant on 23 May 1854 for around 400 pounds. It officially became known as Kogarah Park when it was acquired by the Department of Lands on 1 July 1896 and dedicated as the first public park in Kogarah. Control of the park was eventually passed to the Council of the Municipality of Kogarah on 29 August 1906.

St. George Dragons

During Kogarah’s Jubilee celebrations in 1935, Jubilee Oval was constructed in Kogarah Park. The St. George Dragons had a successful debut game at Jubilee Oval in 1936 when they defeated Newtown in an exhibition match as part of the Jubilee celebrations. The gate-takings from the match were donated to the St. George Hospital. Saints at this stage were still based at Arncliffe’s Earl Park and it wasn’t until 1950 that Saints returned home to Jubilee Oval.

The Dragons played their first official match at the ground on 22 April 1950 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs before 12,500 fans. The Dragons lost a rather exciting match 17-15 but defeat would become quite a rare sight for the Dragons over the coming decades while at Kogarah.

St. George were based at Kogarah during their world record breaking 11 successive premierships from 1956 to 1966. They set a record at Kogarah and were not beaten at home for an astonishing twelve years. (Originally beaten by the Balmain Tigers on 26 June 1954 at Kogarah which was just before the beginning of the streak. It wasn’t until 31 July 1966, that they tasted defeat at Kogarah again, eventually losing 12-9 to the Western Suburbs Magpies).

In 1950, the Dragons began a permanent association with the ground. Around this time was also when St. George legend Norm Provan joined the club and he said of Kogarah:

The team was based at Jubilee Oval right up until the completion of the 1985 season. They then chose to abandon the ground and relocated to the Sydney Cricket Ground. The decision was one which they would come to dread. In 1985 St. George had been Club champions, 1st Grade Minor premiers, 1st Grade Runners-Up, Reserve Grade Premiers and Under-23s Premiers. In 1986 Saints missed the semi-finals in all 3 grades for the first time in 50 years. The fans of the club became angry at the club's decision and stayed away from the club in droves while the Dragons remained at the SCG for a further season.

In 1988 the opportunity came for the club to relocate again. Instead of moving back to Jubilee they decided to move to Belmore Oval. Finally, in 1988 it was decided that the Saints would move home to Jubilee in 1989 with a new stand to be constructed for the 1990 season.

The club yet again moved in the late 90's and explained to fans the decision was on the basis that Jubilee was too small to accommodate a proposed $30 million stadium complex to meet NRL requirements for playing venues. In a joint statement, Kogarah Council and St. George DRLFC stated that the scale of the proposed 20,000 seat stadium would exceed the size of Jubilee Oval and have an impact on residents. The decision to leave Jubilee upset many of St George Illawarra's loyal supporters as the ground had so much history to it and in July 2000 many supporters held a rally in support of the ground.

St. George Illawarra Dragons

The St. George Illawarra Dragons use the ground as part of their home ground, along with WIN Stadium in the National Rugby League. The team was formed in 1999, and used the ground in that season, before moving their games to Sydney Football Stadium in 2000.

From 2000 until 2002 after many loyal St. George supporters held a rally and Information Night to persuade the club to move back to Jubilee Oval, the club did so and with the Dragons merging with the Illawarra Steelers they would be yet again occupying the famous rugby league ground. During these 3 years that the Dragons did not play at Jubilee, there were talks with the club that they would play at St George Soccer Stadium, but their plans fell through. The Dragons returned in 2003 after high amounts of protests and rallies held by supporter group R2K (or Return to Kogarah).

Since 2003, Jubilee has been steadily upgraded in a 3 stage plan, funded by the NSW State Government and Federal Government. In 2006, the ground had been updated with new features to the seating around the grandstand and features directly out of the stadium including re-developments to the Hall of Fame walk and Kogarah Park in front of the stadium. Stage 1 consisted of new terraced seating at the north-western end, perimeter seating at the base of the hill, and a regrassed and raised hill area. Floodlights for televising night matches were also been installed.

In 2007, the Dragons announced that they would not be playing home games at Kogarah for the 2008 season so that Stage 2 redevelopment of the ground could be completed with new roofed extension on the Southern side of the main grandstand increasing capacity by around 2000, and further upgrading to the hill area, including turnstile facilities and strengthening the retaining wall at the Southern Jubilee Avenue end. The Dragons returned for 2009 against the Sharks in round 3, and broke the club record for highest Crowd at the ground.

In 2010, the Dragons secured $13m from the NSW State Government to complete the Stage 3 Northern grandstand extension, with an additional 1580 seats and the replacement of 1730 seats in the existing main grandstand. Also included in the development are additional public toilets and facilities, refurbishment of the existing grandstand facilities including the team change rooms, a new passenger and service lift, additional corporate and multi purpose facilities, and a museum and merchandise store.

A new digital scoreboard and several satellite scoreboards, new security system, turnstiles and ticketing facilities at Gate B and a rainwater harvesting tank will also be installed around the ground. Work commenced 25 October 2010, grandstand work is due for completion in the first week of March 2011 and all fit outs completed by the first week of April 2011.

Naming Rights

In October, 2008, OKI Printing Solutions decided not to renew the naming rights of Jubilee Oval, as the Dragons played at ANZ Stadium during the 2008 season due to re-developments at Jubilee. The naming rights ended on 31 October as the park reverted to its former name. It was officially announced on 25 December 2008, that the WIN Corporation had bought the naming rights for Jubilee Oval, now owning the rights for both of St. George Illawarra's home grounds, Jubilee Oval and WIN Stadium. It has been announced that Jubilee Oval is to be known as WIN Jubilee Oval.

  • Jubilee Oval (1950–2003, 2008)
  • OKI Jubilee Stadium (2004–2007)
  • WIN Jubilee Oval (2009–present)