The Sydney Kings has had a long and successful partnership with the Sydney Entertainment Centre – better known today to the national basketball community as the Qantas Credit Union Arena – since they moved into the iconic venue way back in 1990.
For over twenty years, the team has been the only regular tenant of the SEC, taking up residence there thanks to the vision of legendary Sydney Kings’ founder Michael Wrublewski; who took an enormous risk in transferring Sydney Kings’ games from the much smaller State Sports Centre – a risk that in the end has paid off handsomely for the club.
Right from that first season in 1990, it was clear that the Sydney Kings made the right decision to move to the heart of Sydney. Crowds flocked to the new Kingdome, culminating in a special night on May 25, 1990, when the first ever sell-out crowd of 10,388 witnessed the Sydney Kings, sadly, go down to the Brisbane Bullets 92-95 in a very close game. Despite the loss, the night was a huge success and the event was pumped up in the media at the time as being the NBL’s version of State of Origin rugby league.
Game One of the 2003 Grand Final series against the Perth Wildcats was another memorable event in front of a packed Kingdome; as former Sydney Kings’ Captain Shane Heal recalls:
“My greatest NBL moment in over 400 games was playing with the Sydney Kings in front of a sold out Sydney Entertainment Centre for our first ever grand final appearance. The atmosphere was electric and, much like our stars in the Jack Nicholson seats that attend our games today, the who's who of Sydney came out to watch us play,” Shane said.
“The game didn't initially go our way. The 10,500 fans sat stunned and silent with just under five minutes to go in the game and their team, their Sydney Kings, down by 14 points. We dug deep and with every steal and long bomb the crowd sensed one of the greatest comebacks of all time,” he added.
“By the end of the game, with the siren confirming our win, the crowd were on their feet giving us a standing ovation as we stood in the middle of the court and shared a remarkable moment in sport. Even today, I’m still convinced that it was only made possible because of the true heart and determination the team showed that night; and the amazing support from the Kingdome crowd. It gives me goose bumps just remembering the feeling,” Shane said.
That was just the start of many sell-out games, as fans took advantage of comfortable seating, superb facilities and the unmatched location of the stadium in the heart of Sydney’s entertainment precinct; an area that includes the vibrant Chinatown and a host of great restaurants in the nearby Darling Harbour area.
The Sydney Kings and the Qantas Credit Union Arena have been synonymous with outstanding sport and family-friendly entertainment for over two decades. It’s a venue where the Kings have celebrated two NBL championship victories, played in five NBL Grand Final series and provided incredible thrills on a nightly basis for their many thousands of fans. For such a large venue, it is always emotionally charged when the Sydney Kings are on the court.
Partly for these reasons, the Qantas Credit Union Arena has always been a favourite of Sydneysiders and a host of celebrities, who have witnessed the remarkable exploits of the purple and gold over the years. People like the mighty Shaquille O’Neal, former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins, singer Ronan Keating and many more from film, television and radio – they have all been there to witness the fun and excitement of a Sydney Kings game at one of Australia’s greatest stadiums.
The Sydney Kings and the Qantas Credit Union Arena – it is the perfect match.