Kardinia Park, known affectionately as "The Cattery", is the home ground of AFL football team the Geelong Cats. It is the only AFL ground left in Victoria that is used exclusively by one team and therefore the only one that still has a home ground advantage. Most people going to the ground are Geelong supporters who know exactly where to sit because they have been going there for years. For visiting AFL team supporters, or members of the Geelong diaspora making a pilgrimage home, here are some tips to help you find a good seat.
The good news is that since the completion of the re-development of several stands over the last decade, there isn't really a bad seat in the house at Kardinia Park. With a capacity of 33,500, the stadium is still big enough to generate a roar from the crowd, but it also has an intimacy that has been lost at the two larger, steeply tiered football stadiums in Melbourne. It feels like the stadium designers have got the balance just right. You can see the whole ground from every seat and the action on the field always seems within reach. Even the Gary Ablett standing area has a good view of the playing surface.
Kardinia Park is open to the elements, so the best seat to some extent depends on the weather and the time of the game. Unlike the MCG, Kardinia Park is orientated north-south. The prevailing winds in winter come from the west and the south, which invariably pushes the play towards the cheap seats in the north-east pocket. So as long as you are not looking into driving rain, the budget seats and standing area will see a lot of action up close. The price of "general admission budget seating" is only a few dollars more than the price of a ticket in the standing area, so unless you really want to stand for 120 minutes, go for a seat.
Even though all of the seats are good, the best seats, I believe, are up in the front rows of the third level of the Reg Hickey Stand (sections C1 to C9). This stand is perched over the outer wing near the boundary line, providing a commanding view of the field, but still astonishingly close to the ground for an elevated stadium. These seats are in the third most expensive category and are roughly double the price of the general admission budget seating. The only time I would not recommend splurging on these seats would be for twilight games on sunny days, when you may be looking directly into the sun for part of the game. Compare the game start time against the time for dusk to be sure. To secure these seats you need to ring up the ticketing company or purchase them at a ticketing outlet, because the current online system does not let you manually select individual seats within a ticket category.
The Reg Hickey Stand jutting out over the outer wing at Kardinia Park
The venue hosts VFL and TAC Cup football games as well, with the second teams for Geelong and the Western Bulldogs playing home games there. The tickets for these games are much cheaper than the AFL games and can be a good way to test out the viewing from different parts of the ground.
Geelong is a sports mad city and they love their footy. As a supporter of an away team, I felt very welcome at The Cattery before, during and after the game. I would thoroughly recommend the experience and believe it is well worth the 75 minute trip from Melbourne.