McDonald Jones Stadium, formerly known as Hunter Stadium, is the centrepiece of the Hunter Venues sports precinct. Originally known as the International Sports Centre, it was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the 10th of April 1970.
This rectangular multi-purpose outdoor stadium is the home ground to the Hunter Region’s two flagship sporting franchises, the Newcastle Knights (NRL) and the Newcastle Jets (A-League). It was here at McDonald Jones Stadium the loyal and dedicated fans of the Knights witnessed the highly exciting and entertaining premiership winning seasons in 1997 and 2001. The Jets followed this up and brought the trophy to Newcastle by winning the A-League Grand final in 2008. On 1 April 2011 the responsibility of management changed hands from the Newcastle Knights, who had been running it since 1988. McDonald Jones Stadium is now part of the Venues NSW portfolio along with Pirtek Stadium in Sydney, WIN Stadium and Entertainment Centre in Wollongong and our neighbours the Newcastle Entertainment Centre and Showground.
McDonald Jones Stadium has been under constant redevelopment since the building of the Andrew Johns Grandstand commenced in 2003. Following this project attentions were turned to the original Western Grandstand. Over the next 4 years work was done to demolish and rebuild the stand from the ground up first replacing the outdated player change rooms and media facilities and then moving through construction of the grandstand itself. In April 2011 in time for the first Knights home game that season, the redeveloped Western Grandstand was open for business. The new grandstand features an additional 13,500 seats, 20 corporate suites, 5 function rooms, 8 food and beverage outlets as well as world renowned player change room and media facilities. These facilities have won several building and construction industry awards, including the 2012 Engineering Excellence Awards for engineers Aurecon and the redevelopment project was recognised as the Newcastle winner of a Master Builders Association award for Commercial Projects Over $20 Million in 2011. Today, with the completion of the Western Grandstand, McDonald Jones Stadium has a capacity of 33,000 people.
The last few years have been busy on the field as well as off. McDonald Jones Stadium has welcomed several special and unique events to Newcastle, and not all of them football. In 2010 the Newcastle Jets hosted a friendly exhibition match against the LA Galaxy, who brought their star player David Beckham down under. 2011 saw several other landmark events come our way, with the thrills and spills of the Nitro Circus wowing crowds with their death-defying stunts and skills. Later in 2011 Australian Rugby League returned to the Hunter with a test match held between the Australian Kangaroos and New Zealand Kiwis. This test match attracted a ground record crowd of 32,890 patrons. 2012 was another fantastic year for McDonald Jones Stadium with the Qantas Wallabies coming to town in June in what was a wet and windy night against Scotland in the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship. On December 1st 2013, McDonald Jones Stadium was the proud host for the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony. The Ceremony started with a bang to more than 24,000 people. The night showcased Australia's greatest entertainers under the direction of Creative Director, John Foreman, alongside Special Olympics dancers and performers!
In 2014 McDonald Jones Stadium was granted funding to upgrade the stadium pitch for the AFC Asian Cup in January 2015. McDonald Jones Stadium hosted four AFC Asian Cup, two draw matches and two semi final matches and was lucky enough to host the Soceroos winning semi final match against UAE which took them into the grand final.