Ask almost any sports fan about Adelaide Oval, and you’ll likely hear a common response – that this storied venue is among the most picturesque anywhere on the planet. And yet its beauty goes much further than skin deep.
In a world where stadiums are often monolithic and imposing, Adelaide Oval stands as a perfect blend of modern facilities, timeless design and living history.
First established in 1871, Adelaide Oval is internationally revered for its grassy northern mound, heritage scoreboard and ancient Moreton Bay fig trees that have stood witness to more than 140 years of sporting achievement and major events.
“From the first ever day-night Test match and pulsating Australian Rules football finals through to international soccer, rugby and concerts by Michael Jackson, Adele and the Rolling Stones, Adelaide Oval has always been a place where history is made,” says Adelaide Oval CEO Nick Addison.
“Our history is an essential part of our DNA – it is what sets us apart from other stadia across the globe and absolutely plays a role in attracting visitors and sports fans to our gates.
“But innovation is equally important if we are to continue to provide the best possible experience to those guests in a competitive global market.”
In 2014, a redeveloped Adelaide Oval proudly took its rightful place on the global stage as a truly 21st century stadium, with its new state-of-the-art facilities and pavilion roofline nestled within the city’s famous heritage-listed park lands.
While the Oval had previously hosted the occasional AFL game alongside its busy cricket and major event schedule, the redeveloped stadium became the home ground for South Australia’s two AFL teams, with soaring new grandstands allowing for an increased capacity of more than 50,000 fans.
New bars, kiosks and restaurants were introduced across the venue, while additional corporate spaces unlocked new ways for guests to experience the venue on game days and otherwise.
A purpose-built museum was introduced to house the Bradman Collection, on loan from the State Library of South Australia, as were behind-the-scenes tours of the stadium to further celebrate its rich cricketing history.
“It’s clear that the leadership team at that time were able to find a balance between preserving history and enhancing the offering for the benefit of the visitor experience,” Nick says.
“That continues to be our guiding principle as the current custodians of the venue.
Already renowned as a major tourism destination, RoofClimb Adelaide Oval would – quite literally take things to a new level when it was launched in 2016.
And, in 2020, Adelaide Oval added to its unparalleled list of attractions by opening Oval Hotel – the first integrated stadium hotel in Australia.
“RoofClimb and Oval Hotel were both the result of out of the box thinking and a need to drive visitation outside of sport and concerts. This is such a visually stunning venue in a prime CBD location, so it made sense to embrace its potential as a tourism destination for the state,” Nick says. “Now, RoofClimb is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and Oval Hotel sets the standard for boutique accommodation with its stylish design and award-winning restaurants.
Adelaide Oval’s award-winning functions and events business has also expanded to include offsite catering, while its hospitality offering spans two onsite restaurants, café Koffee Ink and the ever-popular Malt Shovel Taphouse across the River Torrens.
Now, nearly ten years after the stadium’s redevelopment, the Adelaide Oval team are drawing on the venue’s demonstrated history of innovation.
“Every part of our business is geared towards elevating the guest experience and, moving forward, a big part of that will be technological advances,” Nick says.
“In the last few years, the stadium has undergone some significant audio-visual upgrades but we’re looking at ways to take that to the next level. Similarly, we’re investing in tech to improve everything from kiosk wait times to staff development and environmental sustainability.
“It’s not enough to simply be a leading stadium with some unique points of difference. That’s what we are now, but we want to be much more than a stadium.
“Our goal is to build on Adelaide Oval’s reputation as an unmissable destination, and to be recognised as Australia’s most iconic provider of extraordinary, memorable experiences.
“That takes bold thinking, new technology, and an appetite for improvement and growth across every part of the business. Our team is very much in that mindset, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.”