In the past 26 years of Super League, new stadiums upon new stadiums have been built alongside the maintenance of more traditional grounds.
But, that hasn’t necessarily meant that these modern venues are any better than their older counterparts in generating an unrivalled experience. Check out how we have ranked every Super League stadium from best to worst.
1. Emerald Headingley – Leeds Rhinos
Arguably the greatest stadium in Rugby League, the Leeds board has done a tremendous job in rejuvenating the old girl in the middle of a housing estate. The redevelopment is simply superb with none of the old South stand atmosphere being lost in the process. It truly is a feat of modern engineering, though it would be better for everyone if the band under the gantry suddenly lost their instruments.
2. Halliwell Jones Stadium – Warrington Wolves
When Warrington decided to build a new stadium, they got their plans perfect. The Halliwell Jones makes a mockery of other modern venues with its creatively up-to-date fabrication ensuring a superb noise on game day. Facilities underneath are brilliant too with the potential to host play-off and international games incredibly high. If other clubs hunting a new stadium are wanting examples, then look no further.
3. KCOM Stadium – Hull FC
One of the few new stadiums that is actually quite welcoming, the KCOM is home to a vociferous Hull following that lets you know you’re in a cauldron of noise. And, that’s testament to the venue itself – many FC fans were worried that the move from the Boulevard would stifle the atmosphere, but that hasn’t been the case with the asymmetrical bowl structure working wonders.
4. Totally Wicked Stadium – St Helens
Another new stadium that is just shy of being spot on, the Totally Wicked Stadium has seen many a great fixture being played out under the Thursday or Friday night lights. An excitingly modern build, St Helens needed the move from Knowsley Road to underline their trophy-hunting endeavours. Despite that, it is rarely full with the exception of derby days with Wigan or play-off matches, which can sometimes leave you wondering whether or not there are actually fans in the stadium.
5. Stade Gilbert Brutus – Catalans Dragons
It would be higher if there were actually four stands rather than three, but the Stade Gilbert Brutus is still a wonderful place to watch rugby league. Whether it’s the incessant complaining from the Dragons fans or the booze-filled joy of the away fans packed into one of the corners of the ground, the noise is almost palpable on game day. It’s just a shame that most away fans spend most of the game trying to work out the coupon system that would give them access to alcoholic beverages.
6. Leigh Sports Village – Leigh Centurions
What is it with new stadiums and an inability to fill them? The Leigh Sports Village is a tremendous venue to watch play-off games – the 2014 Challenge Cup semi-final, for example, between Castleford and Widnes put the stadium on the map. But, for ordinary league games, the lack of fans sometimes makes the LSV a drab and dreary place, which is disappointing considering that the North stand produces significant noise.
7. DW Stadium – Wigan Warriors
A venue built for the town’s football and rugby league side, the DW Stadium doesn’t get filled for either. The Warriors do manage to pack it out on derby day with St Helens, but some of the fold-down seats must be wondering if they’ll ever get sat on regularly. Plus, the DW just doesn’t generate a good atmosphere and the only thing surer than the cry of “forward” throughout the entire match is the home crowd leaving with ten minutes left if they are losing.
8. AJ Bell Stadium – Salford Red Devils
Again, another stadium that would perhaps not be as harshly marked if it could be filled once in a while, the AJ Bell Stadium epitomises why sometimes new isn’t better. Whilst the Willows was a fantastic place to watch the sport, the AJ Bell is simply just four stands – two seating and two standing – that look as though they’ve been thrown together without a care in the world. There is little to excite you – not even the red and blue multicoloured seats will get you thinking “wow”.
9. The John Smith’s Stadium – Huddersfield
It might well be a new venue, but the John Smith’s Stadium is just not a good place to watch rugby league. It is rarely full – if ever – and that cowbell that continues to be smacked incessantly in the East stand leaves you thinking how a device to keep track of free-roaming animals could make it into the sport. One of the modern ‘soulless’ stadiums, the John Smith’s arena is aptly named because you’d need a stiff ale after visiting.
10. Hull College Craven Park – Hull KR
Saved from the top two spots by the fact that the club has actually installed a new away end, most of Craven Park appears near to collapse. The two home stands opposite each other may well engender a superb atmosphere, but they also stifle a belief that we are in the 21st century. Add to that the South stand which should give out binoculars as part of the experience and Craven Park needs severe improvement. Replicate the North stand in the East and West and then we’re talking.
11. The Mend-a-Hose Jungle – Castleford
Despite its incredible atmosphere on game days, the Jungle wouldn’t look out of place on a landfill site. Its dilapidated nature makes for some interesting sounds as the Castleford faithful bang the tin stands which, surprisingly, hasn’t led to its collapse. At number two rather than number one due to the fact that you can actually see the game from all four corners. The only thing worse than the ground itself is the state of the toilets – enter at your peril.
12. The Mobile Rocket Stadium – Wakefield
Known for the ‘Benidorm flats’, the Mobile Rocket Stadium screams “knock me down”. With away fans now forced to huddle together in the West stand, the view is painful to say the least. A less-than level picture of the on-field action, the only thing worse is looking to your right and seeing a man-made eyesore that screams budget holiday abroad – only without the sun. With a gantry that looks as though it would blow over with a strong gust of wind, the Mobile Rocket Stadium’s proposed upgrade couldn’t come soon enough.