Suncorp Stadium

Lang Park, currently known by its sponsorship name Suncorp Stadium, formerly Suncorp-Metway Stadium, is a rectangular sporting stadium located in the Brisbane suburb of Milton, Queensland, Australia. Built on the site of a cemetery, the stadium has been the home of rugby league football in Queensland since 1957. It has also been the home of Football in Queensland since its modern redevelopment, with Brisbane Roar and some Socceroos games at the ground. It hosted the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Final.

History
Origins

The site of Lang Park was originally the North Brisbane Burial Grounds, and until 1875 was Brisbane's primary cemetery. By 1911 the area was heavily populated, so the Paddington Cemeteries Act (1911) was introduced and the site was redeveloped as a recreational site. In 1914 it was fenced off and named Lang Park after John Dunmore Lang.

In 1953 the Brisbane Rugby League (BRL) amalgamated with the Queensland Rugby League (QRL). QRL secretary Ron McAullife negotiated a 21 year lease of Lang Park from the Brisbane City Council in order to give the QRL a financially viable base of operations. The park had only the most basic facilities, and the QRL contributed £17,000 to its development.

Lang Park hosted its first game of first grade rugby league during the 1930s, with regular BRL games commencing there in 1955. In 1958 it hosted its first Brisbane rugby league grand final in which Brothers defeated Valleys 22 points to 7.

As the ground was used increasingly by the QRL it became no longer viable for use as a public recreation facility. In 1962 the Lang Park Trust was created under an act of Parliament. This allowed for the construction of the Frank Burke Stand (1962), Ron McAuliffe Stand (1975) and the Western Grandstand (1994). The Trust had on its board one member from the Queensland Government, one member from the Brisbane City Council, two members from the Queensland Rugby League and one member from the Brisbane Rugby League.

On 11 February 1950 the official opening of the Lang Park Police Citizens Youth Club took place and youth activities commenced because of the concerns with the increase of juvenile delinquency. Activities such as boxing, wrestling, basketball and gymnastics all occur at these premises to today.

A record crowd of 19,824 saw Northern Suburbs defeat Fortitude Valley at Lang Park in the BRL grand final in September 1961.

From the 1960s Lang Park hosted interstate and international rugby league, including the inaugural Rugby League State of Origin match. Up until 1972, it was the home ground of the Western Suburbs Panthers and from 1988 to 1992 it was also the home ground of the Brisbane Broncos.

Lang Park was the venue of the third and deciding test of the 1992 Rugby league Ashes series which Australia won.

In 1994 the stadium's name was changed to Suncorp Stadium when naming sponshorship was attained by Queensland financial institution, Suncorp-Metway Limited.

On 25 May 1997 the 1996/1997 National Soccer League Grand final was played in front of then a capacity crowd of 40,446 where the Brisbane Strikers F.C. defeated Sydney United FC 2–0.

Redevelopment

In the late 1990s, it was decided that Brisbane needed a state of the art rectangular stadium. Suncorp Stadium was chosen as the site. The $280 million redevelopment commenced in July 2001 after Game One of the rugby league State of Origin series. The redevelopent was completed in time for the match between the Brisbane Broncos and Newcastle Knights on June 1, 2003; Brisbane's first game at Suncorp Stadium for more than a decade. The stadium is now a 52,500 state of the art all-seater rectangular stadium, a far cry from the 2 grandstands of the old Suncorp Stadium. The only remaining stand from before the redevelopment is the Western Grandstand. The extension of the facility resulted in the demolition of a number of buildings along Milton Road, including the former Brisbane City Council trolley-bus depot.

During their relocating year, the Broncos only recorded one win at Suncorp, against the Sydney Roosters in Round 16, 2003, unlike one loss at ANZ Stadium in round 5, 2003, against the New Zealand Warriors.

The stadium design allows most spectators to sit close to the field. Following its redevelopment, questions were raised about the standard of the surface, which was soft underfoot and sandy and was blamed for a spate of injuries to rugby/league players using it (temporarily earning the stadium the nickname "Sandcorp Stadium" ). Prior to the redevelopment, the stadium was known as "The Cauldron", and Queensland fans developed a reputation for vocal support of their teams, adding to this mythology.

Much of this mythology centred around the Queensland State of Origin Team who play their home games at the stadium. The Maroons were viewed as almost unbeatable in front of their fanatical home supporters, however the first games played after the redevelopment of the stadium ended in victories to the visiting team. While the home fans are beginning to reassert themselves, many believe that the aura of invincibility that home teams have at the stadium has been permanently lost.

Suncorp Stadium suffered major damage as a result of the 2010–2011 Queensland floods with the entire playing field being covered by flood water. As a result, an electrical fire started in a transformer room, however there was no major damage from the fire.Brisbane Roar's match with Wellington Phoenix, originally scheduled for the weekend of 14–16 January, was postponed until January 26, and the remaining Brisbane Roar home matches were relocated to Skilled Park on the Gold Coast. Suncorp Stadium was out of action until late February, but restored just in time for the NRL season kick-off. However, temporary change rooms have been set up as the original change rooms were damaged as a result of the floods.

Today

Although the stadium has been the traditional home of rugby league in Queensland, it has also become the state's premier venue for Football, as well as rugby union. The re-developed Suncorp Stadium first hosted rugby union games at the 2003 Rugby World Cup and in 2005, the stadium became the new home of the Queensland Reds Super 14 team when they moved from their former home at Ballymore Stadium. This move caused some disquiet amongst rugby traditionalists however was accepted by Queensland Rugby Union CEO Theo Psaros, who said that "our hearts may be at Ballymore but our heads say it's time to move.". The year before the Reds' move, the newly established soccer team Queensland Roar of the A-League also elected to play their home games at Suncorp Stadium.

New Zealand rugby journalist Wynne Gray called Suncorp Stadium perhaps the best rugby stadium in the world. "It is so intimate you can hear the smack of bodies, the boot on leather, you feel the power and rhythm of the games."

The stadium has also been favourably compared to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and London's Twickenham Stadium.

On 29 July 2006 the Bledisloe Cup clash between Australia and the All Blacks returned to Brisbane for the first time in over a decade for the 2006 Tri Nations Series. Though Australia narrowly lost the match, the game saw a new ground record set.

A month later on the 7th of October the stadium hosted a 1–1 friendly soccer game between Australia and Paraguay in which four Socceroos Tony Vidmar, Stan Lazaridis, Zeljko Kalac & goal scorer Tony Popovic retired from international soccer.

On Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 December, Suncorp Stadium hosted its first music concert since the 1980s and the stadium's redevelopment when Robbie Williams performed in front of two 52,413 sell-out crowds during his "Close Encounters" tour of Australia, and it will be the venue for the upcoming U2 360 tour on 8 December 2010.

Suncorp Stadium was also the site of the 2011 A-League Grand Final, drawing a crowd of over 50,000 for the climactic soccer event. The match was one of the best-played in Australian soccer history, with the Brisbane Roar going on to level out with the Central Coast Mariners in the last five minutes and win 4–2 in the penalty shootouts. The Roar had been trailing in the previous half at 2–0, making for an incredible victory.

The stadium is also home to the Lang Park Police Citizens Youth Club.

Crowd Averages
Popular culture

In the 1980s Brisbane rugby league icon Wally Lewis became known as The Emperor of Lang Park after his performances in State of Origin matches played at the ground. Brisbane-based beer XXXX, which is brewed at the nearby Castlemaine Brewery, ran a television advertisement celebrating this title in song.

There is a bronze statue of Wally Lewis erected outside the stadium.

The stadium has been nicknamed Fortress Suncorp for the Wallabies due to their impressive record at the redeveloped venue.

It is also known colloquially in rugby league circles as "the Cauldron", especially by visiting teams. This is due to how difficult it is for visiting teams to escape with a win under their belt, and the fact that when large crowds are present verbal communication is almost non-existent between players as their voices are inevitably lost beneath the roar of the crowd. This is also due to Suncorp Stadiums perfect rectangular stadium design, where patrons are almost sitting on top of the players: the roar has been indicated to develop a noise higher than the Melbourne Cricket Ground and ANZ Stadium many high class players have also indicated the atmosphere value of Suncorp Stadium.

In 2006, Queensland Minister for Sport, Tom Barton introduced the Stadium'd Sports Media Hall of Fame which honours honours the achievements of media representatives who have covered the two major football codes (Rugby League and Rugby Union) played at this historic ground over the past 40 years. So far there are three inductees: rugby league commentator George Lovejoy, rugby league journalist Jack Reardon and Frank O'Callaghan.

Accessibility
Facts
Controversey

On Saturday, June 16, 2011, The Weekend Australian revealed that Suncorp Stadium was in danger of either losing the hosting rights to all Queensland based NRL finals matches to Sydney or having it's capacity limited to 25,000 seats due to a condition included in the laws regarding the Stadium's redevelopment that only 24 big sports events a year can hosted at the venue and this set to be met when the Brisbane Broncos face the the Manly Sea Eagles in Round 26 of the 2011 NRL Telstra Premiership Season. As of Tuesday, June 19, 2011, The Queensland Government (The Owner of Suncorp Stadium) decided that all events from mid September will be limited to 25,000 seats for the remainder of 2011, in turn forcing (should the Broncos host it) the prelinary final to be moved to either The Gabba in Brisbane, Sydney Football Stadium or ANZ Stadium in Sydney.