9 March 2023

Cheaper chips, pies and more for footy fans at Canberra games

| Claire Fenwicke
Join the conversation
three people eating food

ACT Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson, Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner and Sport Minister Yvette Berry try out the rotational food offerings at GIO Stadium. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Winter warmers at the football will now be cheaper in a bid to bring more fans to home games in Canberra.

The ACT Government, Canberra Raiders and ACT Brumbies have been working to bring more people through the gates of GIO Stadium and improve the game-day experience.

As part of that, a dollar is being shaved off the price of pies, sausage rolls, hot chips, hotdogs and soft drinks.

ACT Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson said a similar move was tried in 2018, and they felt it was time to bring it back given the current focus on discretionary spending.

“We’re at a time when … everyone’s thinking about what they can spend money on,” he said.

“When people are making a decision on whether they come to watch the footy, when they buy their ticket memberships, the cost of food and those sorts of things do come into consideration.”

Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner said he was grateful the government had listened to the concerns raised by patrons, and had stepped up to make the experience better for everyone.

“Our surveys show that the cost of food and beverage is an inhibitor, so to be able to help those families is fantastic,” he said.

“We know it’s hard to get people out here in winter, so whatever we can do to encourage people to come out is much appreciated.”

Based on previous year’s sales it’s expected to cost about $250,000 to subsidise the food, but it’s also hoped the extra buyers would help offset the cost.

Given tickets have already been on sale for some time, it was explained there wasn’t the chance to make those cheaper for families, but it’s something that could be considered when deciding the ticketing structure for 2024.

READ ALSO Saddle up for five days of festivities as Canberra Racing Carnival marks milestone

It’s not the only new thing at GIO Stadium designed to draw more fans.

The Huddle at the Western Forecourt is a new all-weather hub designed to give patrons a place to gather both before and after the games.

Mr Thomson said it was a missing piece highlighted by members.

“Now people can have a beer or something to eat before the game, they can meet up with friends and watch whatever is on the big screen beforehand and then move to their seats to watch the game,” he said.

“Then it’s also a point for meeting up post-game to dissect what’s happened on the field and have a few drinks before they head home, a chance to have more of that comradery.”

The Huddle, GIO Stadium

The Huddle is an all-weather hub for fans to gather before and after matches. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Cashless paid parking will also be trialled this year.

Sport Minister Yvette Berry said the initiatives were about easing financial costs and improving the game day experience so more Canberrans could take part in supporting our local teams.

“We love our teams, we love the Raiders and we love the Brumbies, and we want to support them 100 per cent every step of the way,” she said.

“This is one way we can do that while also acknowledging that people who might want to come to the game might find it a little bit unaffordable and beyond their financial means, so by subsidising the food this gives them a chance to bring their whole family along.”

Other initiatives are planned for the year, especially around the Raiders’ first women’s team’s game, but are yet to be announced.

READ ALSO First Looks: from start to finish Luna is a nightlife venue for grown ups

With a new or upgraded stadium still not on the near horizon, it’s also about keeping the current location attractive to fans.

“It’s a great stadium. We know it’s old and we’d love a new one, we talk about it all the time,” Mr Furner said.

“Hopefully we’ll get there one day but to encourage people to come out here [in the meantime] is what we need to do.”

Ms Berry said while the government would also love a new stadium, it wasn’t in the position to make progress at the moment.

“Whether that’s an upgraded or new stadium, there’s no way we could suggest that could be happening anytime soon.”

Kick-off for the Brumbies’ first home game is against the Reds this Saturday (11 March) at 7:35 pm.

The boys have already had a cracking start to the season with two victories.

“It’s going to be a nice day on Saturday, we’re expecting 27 degrees, so people should come out and support the team,” Mr Thomson said.

While the Raiders take on the Sharks for their first home game on 19 March.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

The Brumbies seem more focussed on bringing in new people than retaining the ones they already have. Every year the membership renewal and communication experience gets worse and worse. There’s little use attracting new members if you couldn’t be bothered keeping them. I’ve been a member for 20 years, won’t be back for 21

Capital Retro4:25 pm 11 Mar 23

“….pies, sausage rolls, hot chips, hotdogs and soft drinks.”

Has this food has been endorsed by the professional players? As if the dysfunctional ACT Health system didn’t have enough patients with dietary problems to deal with.

The ACT must be the only region in the world where food and drug addictions are subsidized.

A relative had free tickets to a Brumbies game last year and invited me along. Unfortunately the referee spent the whole game finding reasons to stop the game for penalties and scrum resets which made it a slow, boring affair. The food was way over priced and tasted pretty ordinary. The potato swirl I bought was covered in salt. I ate about half of it and threw the rest away. Thankfully the tickets were free. I haven’t been back since.

Martin Keast3:11 pm 11 Mar 23

It beggars belief that the ACT government thinks it is appropriate to spend taxpayers money on subsidised food for sports fans. They are one of the heaviest debt per population jurisdictions in Australia. With this sort of decision making, it is easy to see why. We expect our taxes to go to essential services not this sort of populist bribery.

Admittedly, it’s a while since I attended a Brumbies game at Bruce, but aren’t the various food and drink outlets operated by concession holders (who apply a pretty exhorbitant markup on those items)? If so, why is the govt. (i.e. ACT tax payers) subsidising these goods and services?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.