The charms of the Sydney Cricket Ground are well known: the stands are a delightful mix of old and new, the atmosphere is loud yet intimate, and the history rivals any sports arena on earth.
If asked to name my favourite sporting venue, the SCG is my choice. But geez it can be a frustrating love affair – especially when it comes to Test cricket.
There have been improvements in recent years, but it’s still hard to avoid feeling that the public, especially the non-members, are held in contempt by those in charge.
What follows are my three main gripes with Test cricket at my favourite ground. I’m not actually sure who is to blame – the SCG Trust or Cricket Australia or a combination of both – and I don’t really care. I just want something done to fix them.
1. Ticket prices
The prices for the West Indies Test match are an utter disgrace. A single adult ticket to sit under cover and out of the sun costs either $143 or $163. For this you will have the privilege of seeing a West Indies side in disarray, who are currently at odds of 50-1 to win the Test series.
Tickets prices for the first Test in Hobart have been slashed – but for us poor fools in the big smoke, not a cent has been knocked off last year’s prices.
Of course, you could choose to pay a bit less and sit in the sun. The ‘cheap’ seats will set you back $102, $66 or $51. I dare you to buy one of these – especially the $66 category, which gets you a seat in the blast furnace that is the O’Reilly Stand (if you’re lucky).
It is a ‘bucket list’ sort of day. By about the tea break you’ll have churned through litres of sunscreen and water, and have a headache so intense you’ll actually be proud of it. Or, if you’ve had your shirt off and been drinking beer, you’ll be up the road in St Vincent’s hospital.
And what about if you’re in the concourse and it rains? That brings me to my next point.
2. No pass outs
The SCG Trust have advised The Roar that pass outs will be issued for patrons during the Sydney Test match.
This article originally cited information on the Ticketek and SCG websites that pass outs would not be issued during an event, which is still public but is incorrect. The author also called the SCG, who advised that no pass outs would be issued.
3. The food
I’m not expecting Michelin stars. Indeed, I’d be happy with the standard fare of sportsgrounds – tasty burgers and hotdogs containing a week’s worth of kilojoules.
But in addition to being unhealthy, the SCG food also manages to be horribly unappetising. I’ve eaten fish and chips packs at the ground that warranted a royal commission. And it goes without saying that the prices are almost comically overblown.
The frustrating thing is that over in the members sections reasonable food is served up – not to mention a nice range of beers. But for the plebs – even at $163 a ticket – there’s only one brew on offer, and while I’ve never tasted a beer I haven’t liked, this one comes the closest!
Nevertheless, I’ll be at the ground again this January. And no doubt all my angst will melt the second I step inside and feel the unique buzz. But I wonder how many will be there with me.
If the crowds are indeed among the lowest in recent times, hopefully this will prompt those in charge to start making changes.