Having visited Newcastle a couple of months prior for an A-League Jets game but been struck down by a virus brought on by nasty mosquitos that kept me away from the Knights round 3 game the night after, it was great to finally be back here on a chilly Friday night to take in the NRL Newcastle Knights match day experience at McDonald Jones Stadium.
While the Knights ended up with the win on the field defeating the Parramatta Eels 30-24, the fans were also winning off it with a plethora of fun fan engagement activities both inside and outside the stadium before and during the match.
Arriving at the stadium a couple of hours before kick off after experiencing some chats with Knights fans and a footy mixed roast meal at Wests League Club in Lambton I made my way around the venue noticing what was a very impressive fan friendly environment.
With a selection of inflatable rides to keep the kids and families entertained, sponsor booths featuring some tech enabled activities from local companies, priority entry lines for members and Knights staff on hand to help fans with queries it was a good first impression walking around the venue.
Walking around the venue before kick off there was an abundance of activities for kids with more inflatable fun like a Knights castle at one end of the stadium as well as some fun for older fans with the Knights sponsors nib’s ‘Fortress’ social seating space that offered fans an elevated view of the game from a catered and unique seating location.
Thanks to the Knights staff I was able to join a pre-game inner sanctum walk around and onto the ground with Newcastle fans which was a delight for young fans and their families to see their favourite players up so close.
The venue affords a host of quality amenities with the hills at either end a highlight for families to lay out a rug and kids to enjoy rolling down, a craft beer bar, vegetarian options as well as the fan favourite ‘Chiko Roll Bar’ (FYI for international readers- a Chicko Roll is an Australian retro snack bar food staple).
With such a huge car park up so close to the stadium I’m surprised that it’s not used more often for a tailgating type food and fan experience, however I’m sure there’d be reasons why this can’t happen possibly around licensing and OWHS. I’m grateful that my second visit to Newcastle went better than my first but also very much impressed with the Knights overall fan experience. Lots of happy fans young and old as well as families here.