This week, I was lucky enough to visit the Adelaide Oval twice; once on a guided tour and then a few days later with a stint in the media box during Friday’s Adelaide Crows vs Gold Coast Suns AFL game.
I’ve been going to the oval since I can remember. With my mum, a former employee of the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA), it was a second home in my formative years and I have fond memories of the place prior to the redevelopment in 2014.
Since then, with the move of AFL games from West Lakes to the Oval, the stadium has become the undisputed sporting hub of the state and what a hub it is.
This is why everyone from South Australia and anyone outside of it should visit Adelaide Oval.
The guided tour takes you through some of the great moments in Adelaide Oval history and highlights the remarkable job that was done in 2014, preserving one of the most historic stadiums in the world while managing to give it the facelift it needed to host AFL football.
For cricket tragics; it has always been home. I remember visiting mum at work and watching Brett Lee send down thunderbolts in the practice nets prior to the upcoming test match.
Walking around the stadium, you are smacked in the face with cricket history, from the statue of Sir Donald Bradman to the walk of fame in the Western concourse, to the Sheffield Shield room that plays host to a commemorative trophy from when John Inverarity was bowled after the ball hit a bird mid-delivery back in 1969/70.
Five levels above the Shield room is the football media centre, playing host to radio stations, television crews, commentators, print journalists.
As impressive as the football box is, the cricket media centre is even better. Bigger in size, the view from the Southern end over the bowlers shoulder is a sight to behold.
The undisputed highlight of the guided tour is the chance to go behind the scenes of the world’s most iconic scoreboard.
The scoreboard was erected in 1911 and is heritage listed, meaning it cannot be knocked down, however it can be moved as it nearly was during the redevelopment, to the SACA second ground. Thankfully, it remains behind the hill, one of the most iconic sights in sport.
The scoreboard itself was nearly stationed in the south-east corner and if the powers at be back in 1911 had their way it would have been, however, the architect disagreed, saying that it needed to be place at the Northern end.
Thankfully, after threatening to charge an extortionate fee if he didn’t get his way, the Northern end was chosen.
The trees next to the scoreboard that give the hill its leafy atmosphere were originally only planted to stop people getting a free look at the action from Montefiore Hill.
Sure, it took 30 years for the plan to come to fruition but now, fully grown, we are left with one of the most recognisable and admired sections of any stadium in Australia.
That, perhaps, was the true genius of the 2014 redevelopment. They managed to keep the stadium’s trademark open feel by refraining from connecting any of the new grandstands.
Instead, the corners of the ground remain open-air, allowing for a unique atmosphere that Adelaideans cherish.
The grandstands are tall, rather than deep, allowing the sound to travel up and the reverberate back down onto the oval, making for one heck of an atmosphere.
I briefly worked at the oval around the time of the redevelopment and had the pleasure of being on the ground when Port Adelaide would run out to ‘Not giving in’ by Rudimental and the Crows would come up the race to the sound of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The atmosphere at ground level when the crowd would roar in support of their team as they entered battle was like nothing I’d ever experienced and still hits me for six to this day.
Sure, the MCG is the home of football and as long as the Grand Final is played there, it will be, and that’s fine, but South Australians should be and are proud of their stadium.
From my admiration of Brett Lee’s net bowling to downing a chicken wrap in the media suite on Good Friday. Playing witness to countless Redbacks batting collapses and Travis Head sixes and every test match spent almost exclusively in the Village Green, Adelaide Oval has had my heart the entire time.