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Marrara Oval
Marrara Oval grandstand.png
View of the grandstand at Marrara Oval in March 2016
Former names Football Park
Location Marrara, Northern Territory
Coordinates 12°23′57″S 130°53′14″E / 12.39917°S 130.88722°E / -12.39917; 130.88722Coordinates: 12°23′57″S 130°53′14″E / 12.39917°S 130.88722°E / -12.39917; 130.88722
Owner Government of the Northern Territory
Operator AFL Northern Territory
Capacity 12,500
Surface Grass
Opened 1991
Tenants
  • NT Thunder (QAFL/NEAFL) (2008–2019)
  • Parramatta Eels (NRL) (2014–present)
  • Gold Coast Suns (AFL) (2020–)
  • Adelaide Football Club (AFLW) (2017–2019)
  • Western Bulldogs (AFL) (2004–2010, 2012–2013)
  • Melbourne Football Club (AFL) (2010–2019)
  • 2017 Rugby League World Cup
  • Richmond Football Club (AFL) (2011)
  • Sydney Roosters (NRL) (2012)
  • Gold Coast Titans (NRL) (2013)
Marrara Oval
Ground information
End names
McMillans Road End
Airport End
International information
First Test 18–20 July 2003: Australia v Bangladesh
Last Test 1–3 July 2004: Australia v Sri Lanka
First ODI 6 August 2003: Australia v Bangladesh
Last ODI 6 September 2008: Australia v Bangladesh

Marrara Oval, currently branded TIO Stadium under a naming rights agreement (and previously also known as Football Park), is a sports ground in Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory. The ground primarily hosts Australian rules football, cricket, and rugby league.

Marrara Oval was opened in 1991. It has a capacity of 12,500 people, making it the largest stadium in the Northern Territory. However, the ground has a record attendance of 17,500, set in 2003 for a football game featuring the Indigenous All-Stars. Marrara Oval has hosted at least one Australian Football League (AFL) game in every season since 2004 and at least one National Rugby League (NRL) game in every season since 2012. The ground has also hosted both Test and One Day International (ODI) cricket fixtures, most recently in 2008.

History

Australian rules football

Marrara Oval was officially opened to the public on 30 June 1991 as the new home of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), and was conservatively estimated as costing $8 million. The first game played under lights at Marrara was a match between Nightcliff and Southern Districts on 9 December 1994. Transport and Works Minister Daryl Manzie officially handed over the lights to the NTFL that day. Installing the lights cost $1.2 million. The light towers were constructed by Darwin firm Norbuilt.

In February 1992, Marrara Oval hosted its first match sanctioned by the Australian Football League (AFL), a preseason Foster's Cup fixture between Collingwood and West Coast attended by 11,000 people. Further preseason fixtures were hosted at the ground over the next decade, including several Indigenous All-Stars games. A 2003 match between the Indigenous All-Stars and Carlton attracted a crowd of 17,500 people, setting a new ground record. The first regular-season AFL match played at Marrara Oval came in round 20 of the 2004 season, when the Western Bulldogs hosted Port Adelaide.

Between 2004 and 2008 a single Western Bulldogs "home" game was played at the ground each season. In 2010, Melbourne also began to play an annual "home" fixture in Darwin. The Western Bulldogs onsold their 2011 fixture to Richmond, but returned for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Port Adelaide also had a three-year deal with the Northern Territory government and Marrara Oval, in which they would be the "away" team for games at TIO Stadium each year between 2009 and 2012. Since 2014, only one AFL game has been played at Marrara Oval each year. From 2020, Gold Coast will play one home game a year at Marrara Oval, replacing Melbourne.

Marrara Oval has been a secondary home ground of the Adelaide Crows women's team since 2017. In April 2016, the Adelaide Crows launched a successful bid to enter a team in the inaugural AFL Women's season. The bid was constructed in partnership with AFLNT, with the club to share resources and facilities between its Adelaide base and AFLNT's Darwin location. It included a commitment to host some home games in Darwin.

In 2020, Marrara Oval hosted the annual Dreamtime at the 'G match between Essendon and Richmond as it was not possible for the match to be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground due to the city of Melbourne, and ultimately the state of Victoria, being locked down during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

AFL records

Cricket

Marrara Oval has hosted top-level international cricket on several occasions. In July 2003, the ground hosted the first Test of a series between Australia and Bangladesh. A One Day International (ODI) game between the same teams was played the following month. In July 2004, a second Test was played, the first of a series between Australia and Sri Lanka. After that, top-level international cricket did not return to Marrara Oval until mid-2008, when the ground hosted a three-ODI series between Australia and Bangladesh.

International centuries

Two Test and One ODI centuries have been scored at the venue.

Tests
No. Score Player Team Balls Innings Opposing team Date Result
1 110 Darren Lehmann  Australia &10000000000001100000000 221 2  Bangladesh 18 July 2003 Won
2 100* Steve Waugh  Australia &10000000000001100000000 133 2  Bangladesh 18 July 2003 Won
ODIs
No. Score Player Team Balls Innings Opposing team Date Result
1 101 Ricky Ponting  Australia &10000000000001100000000 118 1  Bangladesh 6 August 2003 Won

Rugby league

In the National Rugby League (NRL), the Sydney Roosters played host against the North Queensland Cowboys in Round 7 of the 2012 NRL season in front of 10,008 fans. This was the first time Darwin hosted a professional Rugby League game since 1995. The second game at Marrara came in Round 17 of the 2013 NRL season when the Penrith Panthers (who had previously played games in Darwin during the 1990s) defeated the Gold Coast Titans 40–18 in front of 8,050 for what was a Titans home game.

In 2014, the Parramatta Eels, a Sydney-based National Rugby League (NRL) club, announced they would be playing four games at Marrara over the following four years. The first game came on 9 August (Round 22) during the 2014 NRL season when the Eels defeated the Canberra Raiders 18–10 in front of 9,527 fans.

In 2017 Marrara Oval hosted a quarter-final of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup between Australia and Samoa, Australia winning 46–0. It drew a crowd of 13,473, which is the highest rugby league crowd the stadium has ever gotten and the fourth highest overall.

Other events

TIO Stadium has hosted AC/DC for their "Ballbreaker" tour in November 1996, when 13,000 fans and 170 tonnes of equipment packed the ground. Sir Elton John performed for the first time in the Northern Territory, at TIO Stadium on 17 May 2008 as part of his Australian Tour.

Attendance records

Top 10 sports attendance records
No. Date Teams Sport Competition Crowd
1 7 February 2003 Indigenous All-Stars vs. Carlton Australian rules football n/a 17,500
2 12 February 1994 Indigenous All-Stars vs. Collingwood Australian rules football n/a 15,000
3 12 August 2006 Western Bulldogs vs. Port Adelaide Australian rules football AFL 14,100
4 17 November 2017 Australia vs. Samoa Rugby league 2017 RLWC 13,473
5 14 August 2004 Western Bulldogs vs. Port Adelaide Australian rules football AFL 13,271
6 11 February 2007 Indigenous All-Stars vs. Essendon Australian rules football n/a 13,119
7 18 June 2005 Western Bulldogs vs. Carlton Australian rules football AFL 13,037
8 15 July 2017 Melbourne vs. Adelaide Australian rules football AFL 12,104
9 10 June 2017 Parramatta Eels vs. North Queensland Cowboys Rugby league NRL 11,968
10 4 July 2015 Melbourne vs. West Coast Australian rules football AFL 11,873

Last updated on 17 November 2017

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