- Lloyd Rothwell
WACA Ground – Perth Scorchers
Photos by Lloyd Rothwell Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
WACA Ground Nelson Cres East Perth WA 6004, Australia
Year Opened: 1893
It’s a Scorcher at the Furnace
The WACA Ground (Western Australian Cricket Association) is the home of cricket in Perth, Western Australia. Officially opened in 1893, the current capacity is 20,000. Despite such a long history, with the bulk of Australia’s population residing in the eastern states, the tyranny of distance meant a long wait until the WACA became a regular host of international cricket. The first test match to be played at the ground didn’t take place until 1970, marked by a century to Greg Chappell on debut. A new grandstand was opened to celebrate test cricket coming to Perth, originally known as the Test Stand, but later renamed after WA stalwart, John Inverarity.
As with many of the other major cricket stadiums around Australia, the WACA has been used for numerous other sports; most notably as a previous home for AFL clubs the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers, and also the now defunct NRL team, the Western Reds. With the new Perth Stadium scheduled to open in 2018, the WACA will be remodelled into a high performance cricket hub still capable of holding international fixtures, but the Scorchers, along with major internationals, will all move to the new venue.
The Perth Scorchers, like all the other Big Bash League Twenty20 cricket franchises, was formed in 2011 as a new identity separate from existing state teams. They have since experienced great success on the field, making the grand final in all but one of the five seasons to date, and winning two championships. The Scorchers regularly see capacity crowds at the WACA of 20,000 plus.
Food & Beverage 4
The variety of the food available is one of the big surprises of a trip to the WACA, although the typically high prices will bring you back to reality. Nevertheless, there are some impressive options to be found. The burger selection is solid, with special mention going to the top-of-the-line beef, bacon and cheese burger ($13.50), and the pulled pork burger ($12.50). Also a stand out are the wood smoked hot dogs (from $10), which complement the more standard items such as hot chips, pies and sausage rolls. Additionally, there are a small section of sandwiches, wraps and sushi for those fans looking for a lighter option. Beverage wise, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks are available – again, fairly pricey with a beer costing a minimum of $7.
Being relatively small in capacity by modern standards makes the WACA an intimate, boutique venue. Various refurbishments over the years has seen the gradual addition of grandstand seating. In addition to the Inverarity Stand, spectators can also take advantage of the Prindiville Stand and Lillee-Marsh Stand. The remainder of seating is grass hills and tiered concourses at ground level. This writer may be somewhat of a traditionalist, and therefore find the naming of grandstands and other fixtures around the venue as a welcome nod to history and past greats. For example, there is also the “Barry Shepherd Entrance” at Gate 6. Shepherd not only played test cricket for Australia, but was also an outstanding junior footballer and later an administrator for the WACA. The playing surface itself at the WACA is world famous for the nature of the pitch conditions, traditionally being bouncy and quick. The stadium is branded as #TheFurnance for Scorchers games, and feels like a fortress.
The suburb of East Perth is nestled on the banks of the Swan River, a short distance from the main CBD. The surrounding area has plenty of great hotels, restaurants and cafes including The Royal (60 Royal St). The Perth area has a strong affinity with the water with the river and great beaches. In fact, just beyond the sprawling parklands of Kings Park is the Royal Perth Yacht Club (6 Australia II Dr, Crawley). Royal Perth was of course famously the challenger club who won the 1983 America’s Cup following 132 years in the hands of the New York Yacht Club, and subsequently staged the 1987 defense off Fremantle.
There are many locales within the metropolitan area worth exploring; Fremantle is a must, along with the glorious beachside communities of Cottesloe and Scarborough. There are several other major sporting venues in Perth, namely, Domain Stadium (AFL – West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers) and nib Stadium (Rugby – Western Force, and Soccer – Perth Glory). Soccer is a summer sport in Australia so check both the Big Bash and A-League schedules if you’re travelling to town for any doubleheader opportunities.
The WACA may be a small ground, but the fans duly pack it out every game and are as passionate about their team as any other BBL franchise. There are plenty of families in attendance, and the crowd is largely a sea of orange. Unlike other teams around the country, fans show up early and are raring to go by the time play gets underway.
There are several reasonable options to get to and from the ground on game day. The City of Perth operates several paid parking stations well within walking distance. Check https://www.cityofperthparking.com.au for details. Rates are very reasonable when compared to other major cities around the country. For public transport check the website at http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au to plan your journey. Note that there are several free bus services from the CBD to the ground. Trains are an option but the station at East Perth is around a 2km walk. One of the nicer points about walking into the precinct is the scenery, and many fans were soaking up the atmosphere while strolling through the Queen’s Garden as they approached from the west.
Once inside the stadium, it is not as easy to move around and the stadium somewhat becomes a victim of its age and lack of development over the years. Access to upper levels is by stairs, seating rows are long and narrow, and bathrooms are dated.
Return on Investment 4
Ticket prices offer value for money with Adult General Admission from as low as $20. The usual discounts for children and families also apply, making entry for most very affordable. As always, all BBL teams tend to offer a good experience for families, and are a sensational way to take the youngsters to experience the fun of a night out at the cricket.
Extra points for:
#TheFurnace – excellent marketing to blend with the team branding and to liven up an otherwise bland stadium name
If you only attend one game, make it the New Year’s Day game
While it’s not the most modern stadium going around, the experience is excellent. See the Scorchers at #TheFurnace before the new Perth Stadium opens across the beautiful Swan River.