Suncorp Stadium is set to welcome a capacity crowd of 52,500 for next week’s State of Origin decider after Queensland authorities lifted COVID restrictions for outdoor arenas.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced earlier today (Friday) that open-air stadiums with a COVID Safe Plan will be able to operate at 100-per-cent capacity from next Tuesday.
That means Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane will be able to increase its seated capacity from the previous maximum of 75 per cent up to 100 per cent for next Wednesday’s match between Queensland and New South Wales.
“I think Queenslanders are going to be very, very happy with this outcome,” Palaszczuk told reporters on Friday. “Let’s fill Suncorp and cheer our mighty Maroons on.”
Suncorp Stadium has asked fans to ensure safety by wearing a mask unless they are seated and to remain within the zone allocated on their ticket to minimise circulation. Cashless payments only will be in use for food and beverage and merchandise.
The expected State of Origin crowd will dwarf the attendance figures for the previous two games of the three-match series. Some 25,218 saw Queensland win 18-14 on November 4, with 36,212 watching NSW win 34-10 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday of this week. The Gabba, the 37,500-capacity venue in Brisbane, welcomed a crowd of 29,707 for last month’s AFL Grand Final, when Richmond beat Geelong.
The change comes ahead of the start of the KFC Big Bash League series, with the Gabba to host games in late December. The same venue will also host a Test match between Australia and India in January.
The Queensland state government’s plan also allows all ticketed seated venues for sport, live music and theatre to raise their capacity from 50 per cent to 100 per cent. Patrons must wear masks on entry and exit, while performers can reduce distance from audience from 4m to 2m, except choirs which remain at 4m from the audience.
Outdoor events can increase attendance from 1,000 to 1,500 with a COVID Safe Event Checklist, while larger events require a COVID Safe Plan.
The announcement comes eight months after an Australia-wide ban on crowds of more than 500 was imposed by the Federal government in March. Queensland’s major sporting venues initially welcomed back crowds of up to 2,000 in June.