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A New Season

The 2024 AFL season has officially kicked off, with fans flocking to stadiums across the country to cheer on their favourite teams. The start of the season has also launched the AFL’s 19th team, known as the Tasmania Devils, set to join the competition in 2028 with great community support.

The resurgence of fan attendance following years of pandemic-induced hiatus is a remarkable comeback. This year, AFL crowd records were smashed in round one, with over 413,000 people attending nine games. The match between Fremantle and Brisbane at Optus Stadium brought the total to 413,405 spectators, surpassing the previous record of 400,401 set in 2017. The MCG boasted the largest crowds of the weekend, with all three games attracting over 70,000 fans.

This trend builds upon the attendance numbers of 2023, with hundreds of thousands of fans packing into iconic venues such as the SCG, MCG, Adelaide Oval and Perth Stadium to witness their teams in action.

At COX, we recognise that the stadia experience is key to attracting patrons, sponsors, and local and international events. COX has played a role in the SCG, MCG, Adelaide Oval, and Optus Stadium (completed as part of the Westadium consortium with Hassell and HKS Sport and Entertainment) – iconic stadiums that go above and beyond to create an inviting and exciting atmosphere for all. These venues provide an immersive journey, enticing spectators to arrive early, stay longer, and eagerly count down the days until they return.

Fan-First Approach Revolutionising Stadium Design

Stadiums are more than their sporting events; they’re the beating hearts of communities, where fans gather to cheer on their teams, share in victories, and commiserate defeats. The connection between fan and team is deep rooted, with a fan-first approach to stadium design reshaping the landscape of sports enjoyment. But what does this approach entail? And how does it contribute to creating the ideal environment for sports enthusiasts?

The Spirit of Home Grounds

By contextualising designs to reinforce a sense of the ‘home’ ground, communities are brought together in shared experiences. From seating bowls with uninterrupted views to roof designs that amplify crowd noise, every aspect is meticulously crafted to enhance the fan experience. Stadiums have become beacons of diversity, inclusion, and community – a space that foster a sense of belonging between sports fanatics.

Impact of AFL Games

The evolution of stadium design has had a profound impact on the popularity and success of AFL games. Traditional suburban grounds have given way to modern cathedrals of sport, epitomised by the MCG, SCG, Optus Stadium and Adelaide Oval, all of which accommodate multiple teams.

To continue to maintain this sense of ‘home’ for each fan, stadiums undergo digital transformations, utilising lighting and LED screen technology to create a home team advantage each game. Improved amenities and food and beverage offerings further enhance the fan experience, enticing these record-breaking crowds back game-after-game.

Balancing Functionality with Experience

Functionality is paramount in stadium design, ensuring seamless operations behind the scenes. From team locker rooms designed to enhance player performance, to commercial kitchens capable of catering to thousands – each aspect contributes to delivering an exceptional experience. Back-of-house considerations create a seamless journey for spectators.

“Back of house considerations mean that a fan can run to the toilet or grab a beer and a pie with little to no queuing. This is more than just convenient, it’s key for a good day at the footy!” COX Director, Alastair Richardson

Future Trends and Innovations

The future of stadium design is ripe with innovation. Augmented Reality and immersive technology will continue to enhance the live experience, offering new perspectives. The rise of carbon-neutral stadiums powered by renewable energy sources showcases the shift towards sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change. Additionally, the expansion of public spaces and food and beverage offerings within stadiums reflects a growing emphasis on social interaction and community engagement.

COX’s fan-first approach to stadium design is not merely about creating structures; it’s about crafting experiences. By prioritising the needs and desires of supporters, these venues are redefining the way we experience sports, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie that transcends the game itself. As stadiums continue to evolve, driven by innovation and a commitment to fan satisfaction, the future of sports enjoyment looks brighter than ever.

Oval Hotel

Adelaide, South Australia

Optus Stadium

Burswood, Perth

MCG Northern Stand

East Melbourne

Sydney Cricket Ground Redevelopment


Sydney Cricket Ground Redevelopment – North Stand | Signage & Wayfinding

Moore Park