The recent terror alert has seen an increase in security but a reduction in crowd numbers at Allianz Stadium for the NRL elimination final.
Crowds were down but security was up at Allianz Stadium in response to heightened terrorism fears across Australia.
NRL officials would have to be concerned at the poor turnout of 18,355 to what should have been a massive occasion – an elimination final between the exciting North Queensland Cowboys and defending premiers the Sydney Roosters on home soil at Moore Park.
Given league attendances have been down this year, it’s debatable whether the government’s recent talk of possible terrorist attacks in Sydney would have had a significant effect on crowd numbers.
However, there’s no doubt those in attendance would have noticed a more intense security presence at Allianz Stadium from police.
Radio station 2GB reported that three bearded men of middle-eastern appearance were removed by police from the venue, however police later denied the claim.
Throughout the match and at half-time, police regularly patrolled up and down the aisles, checking along the rows at the feet of spectators for anything suspicious.
At the break, more than 30 security staff and police guarded the playing field.
With the country on high alert, this may be a glimpse into what the future live sport experience might be like for fans.
The modest crowd on Friday night is further proof that the NRL struggles to get people through the gates in finals unless it’s a genuine heavyweight clash between Sydney teams.
For the Roosters and Cowboys encounter, a sea of empty blue seats made for an embarrassing look for the game.
Getting less than 20,000 to a final in Sydney when across town the AFL preliminary final between the Swans and North Melbourne drew at least double that number is further proof the game is struggling.