Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium today (Wednesday) welcomed a crowd of 49,155 for the State of Origin finale between Queensland and New South Wales, marking the biggest attendance in world sport since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

The attendance fell slightly short of Suncorp Stadium’s 52,500 capacity but was enough to eclipse the 46,000 figure that was posted for last month’s Bledisloe Cup rugby union match between New Zealand and Australia at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Rugby league fans at today’s game were treated to an exciting finale to the State of Origin series, with Queensland defeating New South Wales 20-14 to secure a 2-1 series win. The first two games were played at Adelaide Oval and Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, which both operated at reduced capacities – 24,218 and 36,212, respectively – in line with COVID-19 restrictions.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced last week that open-air stadiums with a COVID Safe Plan would be able to operate at full capacity as of yesterday, paving the way for Suncorp Stadium to welcome almost 50,000 fans for the State of Origin decider.

Fans were asked to ensure their safety by wearing a mask unless they were seated and to remain within the zone allocated on their ticket to minimise circulation. Cashless payments only were also in use for food, beverages and merchandise.

Today’s crowd dwarfed the attendance figures for the first two State of Origin games and also eclipsed the 29,707 that was posted for the AFL Grand Final at the Gabba in Brisbane on October 24. The Gabba is also due to host Big Bash League cricket next month and a Test match between Australia and India in January.

Last week’s announcement by Palaszczuk will allow all ticketed seated venues across Queensland to raise their capacity from 50 per cent to 100 per cent. Outdoor events can increase attendance from 1,000 to 1,500 with a COVID Safe Event Checklist, with larger events requiring a COVID Safe Plan.

Image: Kgbo/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size