Melbourne Cricket Ground

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Photo courtesy Ben Davies

  The Facility  
Date Built pre 1838
City of Melbourne
(Melbourne Cricket Club)
Capacity 100,000
Surface Grass
Cost of Construction Unknown
  Other Facts  
Melbourne, Australia
Phone Number  
Tenants Various
Population 5,000,000

Ben Davies wrote: I have enclosed a 1996 picture of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, aka 1956 Olympic Stadium. Successive redevelopments have transformed it significantly since then - less than one third of the present stands were there in 56. The stadium is to be further developed in time to host the Commonwealth Games in 2006; The Southern Stand, built in 1992 (the long roofed stand at the back of the picture) is to be 'extended' around the ground to replace the Olympic Stand (1956) and the Members Pavilion (1923). As much of the Pavilion as possible will be preserved in the new works, with the four levels of seating to be cantilevered above and around much of the existing structure.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground has hosted almost as many historic events as the LA Colosseum, including the first ever international cricket match (1877), the 1956 Olympic Games and 93 Grand Finals of the AFL. It also holds the world attendance records for the following sports: Aussie Rules (121,696 in 1970); Rugby League (87,000 in 1994); Rugby Union (91,000 in 1997); Cricket (90,600 in 1961) and Baseball (No, this is not a misprint; when a baseball match was played as an exhibition sport at the '56 Olympics, it attracted a crowd of 102,000 - still the world record!). In the most recent AFL season, over 3.5 million people attended matches at the venue. It's present capacity is about 97,000 all-seated, which certainly makes it one of the most significant contemporary stadiums in the world.

On November 13, 1999 Adam Soffer compiled this:

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of Australia's greatest assets. It is by far the country's biggest and most popular stadium and an extremely busy venue accommodating international cricket, Australian Rules Football, concerts, dinners and other major functions on its natural turf arena.

The MCG is very heavily utilised. There are more than 90 days of cricket and football each year and attendances exceed 3.5 million people annually.

The Melbourne Cricket Club manages the stadium and has progressively expanded the MCG's role as both an entertainment centre and a world-class tourist destination.

Today it sits proudly alongside other internationally recognised attractions as a venue uniquely symbolic of Melbourne, Victoria and Australia generally.

Melbourne Cricket Ground

A Major Tourist Attraction

Even when the 100,000-capacity grandstands are silent there is plenty of activity at the MCG. It is a major tourist attraction with much of Australia's sporting and social history residing within the walls of its stately old Pavilion and the modern-day Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum.

The Melbourne Cricket Club, as ground manager on behalf of the Victorian Government-appointed MCG Trust, has always been mindful of preserving the ground's wonderful heritage and devotes substantial funding to its various museum activities.

The Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, opened in December 1996, is the club's latest important initiative. However, event days remain the principal focus for stadium management in providing modern, comfortable facilities for an increasingly demanding public.

Superior Spectator Facilities

The advent of the Great Southern Stand in 1991-92 set many benchmarks for the construction of sporting stadiums in Australia.

This marvellous structure, accommodating 44,500 people and covering 45 per cent of the stadium's perimeter, brought state-of-the-art comfort, convenience and hospitality facilities to all levels of Melbourne's sporting society. The $150 million showpiece incorporates many of the world's most advanced design features and contains provisions for disabled people which are second-to-none.

A most comprehensive disaster plan is in place, with crowd alert and evacuation procedures clearly documented. Staff refresher courses are conducted regularly.

The Great Southern Stand spawned an era of advanced event management techniques which have been applied to all other areas of the stadium, so that systems in older facilities have been brought into line with modern practice.


High-quality Lighting

The MCG has led the way in catering successfully for night sport in Australia. This has been possible because of the efficiency and reliability of the ground's six lighting towers which were first used in February 1985.

The lights pioneered regular Friday evening football in Melbourne and have allowed day/night cricket matches to be played at the ground before huge audiences.

Record night football crowds and day/night international cricket attendances in excess of 87,000 confirm the public's keen acceptance of sport after dark.

Also very popular with spectators are the big electronic scoreboards. The MCG is one of the few stadiums in the world to boast two information centres of such size, clarity and versatility.


A City's Heart and Soul

The MCG always has been a focal point of activity for Melburnians. If there was an important event in the city the odds were that the cricket ground would play host.

There have been several royal pageants and religious conventions held at the ground. State-of-Origin rugby league and international rugby union and soccer matches have been played before big crowds at the stadium, and visiting teams of baseballers and lacrosse players first demonstrated their skills on the MCG.

The country's first major cycling event; the Austral Wheel Race, was held there and experimental aeroplane flights used the arena as a runway, not always successfully.

School sports were staged at the MCG and the entire stadium was transformed to host the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. One way or another, the green sward has been extremely busy. It is used one day in four and is subject to year-round wear and tear unlike any other natural turf surface in the world.


A Most Versatile Arena

In 1992 the arena was reconstructed entirely. It now has a sand-based profile boasting very good drainage and load-bearing characteristics.

The new surface has made the MCG extremely versatile in that large-scale events such as concerts can be held at the ground without potential damage posing an unacceptable risk to sporting programs.

International acts such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, the Three Tenors and Elton John and Billy Joel have been attracted to the MCG and income from these concerts contributes significantly to on-going ground development.


The Finest Amenities

The MCG is a very popular venue for local and interstate visitors and a prime destination for international tourists. Its many attractions include a wide range of well-appointed function rooms, most of which offer splendid, restful views of the arena below.

On event days many of these facilities are utilised for corporate dining and entertaining packages.

At other times the rooms may host a variety of functions such as business meetings, weddings and receptions and cocktail parties.

Social gatherings often are preceded by a brief guided tour of some of the MCG's numerous heritage attractions.


Coming to Melbourne? Don't miss the MCG!

MCG accessibility is a management priority at all times. Some sections of the Members Reserve may not be open to the public when matches are in progress, but the Gallery of Sport is open for inspection daily.

On non-event days, MCG guides conduct very entertaining and informative tours of the ground between 9.30am and 4pm. Casual visitors are shown traditional highlights such as the Pavilion's Long Room and Entrance Hall. Special tours may be arranged to include the Great Southern Stand and other interesting points around the stadium, such as the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, opened in 1996 to wide acclaim.

Access on match days is generally unrestricted and visitors are encouraged to attend action-packed MCG football or cricket while in Melbourne.


Noteworthy Attendances

1,153,000 - 15-day aggregate for 1956 Games (an Olympic record)
350,534 - Record test match attendance (third test 1936-37 over six days)
130,000 (Est) - Billy Graham crusade, 1959
121,690 - VFL grand final, Carlton v Collingwood, 1970
120,000 (Est) - Final ceremony Eucharistic Congress, 1973
99,256 - VFL first round match 1958 (Melbourne v Collingwood)
90,800 - Record daily cricket attendance Australia v West Indies 1961
90,119 - Bledisloe Cup rugby union match between New Zealand All Blacks and Australia's Wallabies, July 1997.
88,066 - Collingwood v Essendon AFL night football match 1992
87,182 - World record limited-overs match attendance (1992 World Cup final, Pakistan v England)
87,161 - NSW v Queensland State-of-Origin rugby league 1994
85,513 - World Cup Soccer Qualifying match Australia v Iran, November 1997

Melbourne Cricket Ground
Photo courtesy Ben Davies, thanks again Ben
"Attatched a picture taken at the 1993 Grand Final which is a good panoramic view of the ground. It provides a good contrast with the shot from the 56 Olympic Games on your site. The Members Pavillion (1923) is on the far left, the Olympic Stand (1956) is to its right and the Southern Stand (1992) fills up most of the picture. None of the Ponsford Stand (1967), from which the photo was taken, is visible


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