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A remarkable night at the footy

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It’s nearly that time of the year again: footy season is fast approaching.

It’s a time of camaraderie, fun with friends and family and of course… feeling the chill when watching games in an outdoor stadium.

Last year we were graciously invited to the Stadium Sports Lounge at GIO Stadium, and it was an eye opener into what a great experience a night at the footy can be like.

When it comes to options, GIO has every kind of spectator covered.

Need to entertain special clients? Granted, not everyone is a sports fanatic – but the Private Suite is a match for everyone. In addition to unrivalled views of the field, you and your guests will have your own personal attendant to look after you as you relax in the suite or on your own private balcony – whether you choose to watch the game or sit back and mingle. You’ll also have glass sliding doors leading from the suite to a private outdoor balcony with stadium style seating.

Trying to avoid the crowds? With suite access before kickoff and after the full-time siren, hiring a private indoor casual suite is a great way to have a special experience with your nearest and dearest.

Planning a night out with the girls? The relaxed Stadium Sports Lounge is the ultimate match day experience for home matches. It includes access to its own bar and delicious food to sustain you – and you don’t need to don a thousand layers just to watch the game.

If you’re still on the fence, read what happened when Kate Freeman and I were treated to our own girls’ night out at the footy:

When planning a girls’ night, a few options stand out. Cocktails at a new bar, dinner at a nice restaurant, or a night at the movies always top my list.


 My friend (and nutritionist extraordinaire) Kate Freeman and I catch up for a walk every weekend, and for a long time we’d been meaning to have a ‘real’ girls’ night – the kind with wine and delicious food. When the invitation to the Stadium Sports Lounge at GIO Stadium to watch the Brumbies arrived in my inbox, I knew just who to invite.

I’m not averse to watching football – I love sport and I’ve often made the trip to GIO to watch the Brumbies or the Raiders play with my girlfriends, but it’s never been on my short list of typical ‘girl’s nights’ until now. Enter the Stadium Sports Lounge at GIO Stadium: the perfect way to upgrade your girl’s night at the footy.

Firstly, you get to rock more than your beanie and scarf. While there isn’t a specified dress code, you certainly don’t look out of place in a nice pair of heels. The crowd is quite corporate (not surprisingly) so Kate and I feel at home in our outfits (skinny jeans, a nice top, heeled boots and trench coats). Yes, both of us. No, we didn’t coordinate on purpose.

Next, there’s the food. It comes courtesy of GEMA Group and is plentiful and far superior to your average sporting fare. First, we’re encouraged to help ourselves to an impressive selection of bread and dips, before wait staff offer canapés like bruschetta, crispy chicken wings and slow braised lamb pot pies.

If traditional footy food is your fave, there’s also cocktail pies and sausage rolls with dipping sauce, so you won’t miss out. The main meal is a buffet offering ‘build your own’ pulled pork burgers. Divine. Once we’ve polished off those, we’re offered a selection of sweet little desserts and (my personal favourite) a cheese board complete with quince paste and fruit.

One of the least anticipated parts of a footy game is when it’s time to hit the bar. If it’s a crowded stadium then you can be in for a long wait in the queue, potentially missing crucial moments on the field. In the Sports Lounge, there’s none of that. There’s a private, fully-serviced bar where you can order wine, beer or cider (served in a glass, not a plastic cup). You can also take your drink with you outside on the balcony to get even closer to the action on the field.

The view is something to behold. From inside the Lounge or out on the balcony, there’s a sweeping, uninterrupted view of the playing field. There’s also a number of massive plasma screens inside, so you can watch every moment of the game from wherever you choose to sit in the Lounge.

If, like me, you choose to indulge in a few wines over the course of the evening, then at some stage you’ll need to make a trip to the ladies. To be fair, I don’t think the toilet facilities at GIO are bad by any means – there’s plenty of them and the wait isn’t usually too long. However, the Lounge has its own private bathrooms so you can quickly duck off without missing too much of the game (or the conversation).

Lastly, there’s the matter of frigid Canberra winters. I for one am guilty of choosing to stay home rather than brave the cold to watch a game of footy. In the cooler months, you need to rug up from head to toe to maintain some level of warmth. The Lounge totally changes that.

Of course, there’s the option of watching the game from the outdoor balcony. However, you can also choose to sit inside and still enjoy a VIP view of the field while enjoying a delicious hot meal and glass of wine – heaven!

As you can expect, these tickets don’t come at the same price as your standard ticket. At $180 your experience includes your ticket, food and access to the Lounge, including the luxe private bar.

If you’re reading this and wondering if the Lounge is available for a private function or event on non-game nights, it certainly is. In fact, there’s a range of function and event spaces at GIO Stadium to choose from which can accommodate up to 700 guests, so it’s worth perusing their website or chatting to the team to see which is best for you – they can even help you plan and execute your event.

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