Is NRL State of Origin your thing? What about AFL or just hanging at the tennis or cricket?
We asked the main sporting stadiums across Australia if they were currently offering gluten free foods and got a mixed bag of responses. None could be considered gold standard; although in fairness, Suncorp Stadium had tried.
In 2014 Suncorp Stadium opened a dedicated gluten free outlet.
“WOW!” “Amazing” and “That is so cool!”
We can only assume that the profits didn’t stack up, because in 2021 the gluten free outlet is no longer there. Instead, we were advised the following - “Each outlet has some gluten free options. However, if you prefer you are able to bring you own food from home that is not commercially packed. For example, sandwiches, fruit, homemade cakes or biscuits. Any snack items like popcorn etc. will need to be placed into a zip lock bag. You can also bring in your own bottle of water if you wish or a thermos of tea or coffee. No commercial soft drinks are admitted and if you bring a thermos, it may be check by security on entry.”
The hallowed grounds of the MCG offer “gluten friendly foods” including pies, hot chips, soup and salads. Gluten friendly is a term that generally means it starts gluten free but you should check the conditions under which its prepared for cross contamination. The pies are usually your safest option unless you are vegetarian. Stadium Australia at Homebush, were advising gluten free pies were their only food at the time of asking.
Adelaide Oval and Optus Stadium in Perth gave us very little information. They have options at most stands but can’t guarantee and wont specifically name anything in writing. Although the Perth answer did include a personal comment. “If you are looking for a recommendation - any of our curries or loaded butter chicken fries from chicken outlets are outstanding!”
Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Open Tennis, replied with a very polite answer which just reiterated the everchanging situation. “Each event, demographic and type, brings with it different menus which we confirm a few weeks out. If you let me know which event you are attending, I can certainly share with you the options we have available.”
Marvel stadium at Melbourne Docklands had perhaps our favourite answer. They update their website regularly and had quite a comprehensive list of gluten free foods. Check it out if you are lucky enough to be heading to a game there - Marvel gluten free link
So, now what do you do if you want to eat on game day?
- Do a little research. Call or email before a match and ask what’s on offer. Things change all the time and the more businesses see gluten free as an opportunity, the more likely they are to cater for us. A call out on local social media is helpful too, as surely someone’s been to the soccer or rugby before you. Foods that most likely will be available will include hot drinks, cold drinks, prepackaged gluten free pies and prepackaged snacks. If you are lucky there may be hot chips, nachos, baked spuds or fruit salad as well. Keep your eyes open and fingers crossed.
- Double check everything. Just because the lovely person in admin recommended the curries, it doesn’t mean they are free from cross contamination. Hopefully they are, but you should never assume; so, ask the standard questions.
- Pack your own goodies and you won’t go hungry. Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised if you do find something perfect. Foods that are great to pack in the bag are listed below but just be careful with containers. As the Suncorp response shows, many stadiums may not allow open liquid containers or metal containers to be brought in. Check with your individual stadium or individual event, and beware that concert regulations may be different to sport. Ideas for your BYO foods include:
- Fresh fruit or homemade fruit salad.
- Healthy treats including nuts and seed mixes.
- Salty treats such as chips, popcorn, crackers and pretzels. Add a little dip with the crackers.
- Sweet biscuits or Homemade baked goods. Baked brownies or muffins travel well.
- Something a little more special than everyday snacks - Have you tried the Schar chocolate bars? One of our favourites is the gluten free Kit Kat alternative! These come individually wrapped so are great to have in your bag at the footy.
- A warm soup or noodle cup in winter.
- Something to share with everyone.
If you don’t trust that a stadium can provide gluten free foods, you could also eat out somewhere different before the game. For recommendations on what to ask when you are eating out visit our coeliac safe restaurant dining tips.And lastly, when your tummy is full, and the game is in motion, don’t forget to enjoy the game whether your team is winning or losing!