Every major city and sports code has its sacred stadium, the hallowed ground where their premier team has battled it out for immortality. In Brisbane, that ground is The Gabba.
For the last 120 check years, the Brisbane Cricket Ground has played host to cricketing legends, Aussie rules dynasties, Olympic finals and rugby matches. Situated in the inner city suburb of Wooloongabba, what started as little more than an open grass field next to a primary school has grown to become a sophisticated, modern stadium that can hold up to 40,000.
In the summer months, cricket dominates the programming with at least one international test, one-day matches and the new 20:20 big bash league. Savvy marketers have transformed one lower section of the stands into a pool deck with a large group pool that fans can upgrade or win the chance to watch a match from the cooling waters.
The Gabba wicket is one of the most feared in the cricketing world, confusing and confounding the English, Indian, Pakistani, New Zealand, Sri Lankan, South African, Zimbabwean and West Indian batsmen.
From April, the cricket makes way for Aussie rules season, or footy season as the locals call it. The Brisbane Lions are one of two Queensland teams and although they have been stuck on the lower rungs of the league ladder for the last ten years, they dominated the code from 2001-2004 when they won three premierships in a row and made it to the grand final in the fourth year.
Within the concrete super structure are gyms, locker rooms, media centers, lecture rooms and executive suites for both sporting codes. We’ve been lucky to have access to them in the past, getting inside the Brisbane Lions locker rooms where each locker is marked with the names of past players who have worn the numbers who made it past one hundred games.
Upstairs, the stands are serviced by numerous bars and fast food outlets including Dominoes pizza and stands selling meat pies (an Australian delicacy), hot dogs, chicken tenders and fish and chips. During cricket season, only low alcohol drinks are served as the long matches, binge mentality and macho culture has been known to cause altercations in the crowd.
The Queensland Cricket Club
As an escape from the riff raff there is always the prestige of the members area. The Queensland Cricket Club offers wealthy Queenslanders with an elegant, air-conditioned clubhouse with prime views of the field. Honor rolls bear some of the most famed names in cricket including Sir Donald Bradman, Alan Border, Greg Chappell and Dennis Lillee. The Brisbane Lions are well represented with signed jerseys, glass presentation cabinets with football boots and premiership era paraphernalia.
While the Gabba doesn’t offer tours like the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), Lords or even Fenway Park, if you get here early enough on game day, just walking the corridors and feeling the energy as the place begins to fill up.
Local tip: head over to the German Club before a game for cheaper drinks, schnitzels and bratwurst.
The Gabba is the informal name for the Brisbane Cricket Ground.
Between Vulture Street and Stanley Street at Wooloongabba.
The Gabba is accessible by the busway from the CBD and cab or Uber. For tickets for matches, book at ticketmaster.