Melbourne Cricket Ground
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.
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.
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.
DATES WITH HISTORY
- 1838 The first cricket match was played on November 15 on the site of the Royal Mint in William Street. Messrs F.H. Powlett, R. Russell, Alfred Mundy, C.F. Mundy and George Smyth formed the Melbourne Cricket Club on November 22.
- 1839A new ground was established on the present site of Spencer Street Station. This was then known as "Batman's Hill".
- 1846The MCC moved to a site on the south bank of the Yarra, between the river and present-day South Melbourne (from Walker Street east across Queensbridge Street).
- 1851The MCC adopted the red, white and blue colours and played the first inter-colonial match under the name Port Phillip against Van Diemen's Land in February at Launceston. This was the first "first class" cricket match in Australia. It was part of the celebrations for Victoria's separation from NSW.
- 1852The first inter-colonial match ever played in Victoria, between Port Phillip and Van Diemen's Land, on March 29-30 at the South Melbourne site, was sponsored by the MCC.
- 1853The present site of the MCG in the "Police Paddock" was granted to the club by Governor La Trobe.
- 1854The first cricket match was played at the MCG.
- 1858The Melbourne Football Club was informally founded with membership initially restricted to MCC members.
The famous football match between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College was played on Richmond Paddock, just outside the MCG.
- 1859The rules of Victorian Football were drawn up by T.W. Wills, W.J. Hammersley, Alex Bruce, T.H. Smith and T.F. Wray. The first games were played on the MCG, although the ground's availability for regular football fixtures was limited until the 1880s.
- 1862H.H. Stephenson's XI began a match against Victoria on New Year's Day, the first time an English team had played on Australian soil.
- 1869The first football match on the MCG was a charity match between Melbourne Football Club and the police.
- 1877Commencing on March 15, the first test match between Australia and England was played at the MCG. (The term "test" did not become common until 1894). During the same match, Charles Bannerman scored the first century in test cricket.
- 1879Night football was first played on the MCG under electric light on August 6, Collingwood Artillery v East Melbourne at the MCG. Melbourne played Carlton under lights on August 13. The MCC laid down asphalt tennis courts, the first in Australia, outside the western end of the ground.
- 1881Sightboards were first used on the MCG.
- 1882A scoreboard, showing the batsman's name and how he was dismissed, was erected, the first of its type in the world. The MCC, through its president Sir William Clarke, played a key role in the events which led to the presentation of the Ashes to Ivo Bligh in December 1882.
- 1886The first Austral Wheel Race was held at the MCG.
- 1890MCC won its first baseball premiership.
- 1893The first Australasian Athletic Championships were held in October at the MCG.
- 1894The MCC established bowling greens at the MCG.
- 1900The MCC formed a rifle club during the Boer War.
- 1901The Championship of Australia Bowls Tournament was inaugurated by MCC.
- 1902Hugh Trumble, a Melbourne club cricketer, performed the hat trick against England at the MCG. He repeated this feat in 1904, becoming the only bowler to take two hat-tricks in Ashes Tests.
The VFL grand final was held at the MCG for the first time.
- 1907Australia's first international lacrosse match against Canada was played at the MCG before a crowd of 30,000
- 1908The first Australian Rules Football carnival was held at the MCG.
Davis Cup challenge round matches were held at the Warehouseman's Ground (now the Albert Ground), the first matches of their type in the southern hemisphere.
Teams from the USS Minnesota and USS Kentucky, part of the "Great White Fleet", played an exhibition gridiron match with the MCC.
- 1925Broadcasting rights for football and cricket were given to the ABC. This was the first irregular broadcast by 3AR at the MCG.
- 1926Victoria made 1107 against NSW, a world first-class record which still stands.
- 1935A women's test was held at the MCG, Australia v England, January 18-21.
- 1936Much of the Southern Stand, still incomplete, was open to the public.
- 1942The first US Army Air Force personnel occupied the MCG.
- 1943RAAF personnel occupied the MCG. The US First Marines Division also occupied the ground.
- 1948A testimonial to Don Bradman was held at the MCG. Bradman scored 19 first class centuries at the ground.
- 1956The MCG was the main arena for the Olympic Games with 107,700 attending the opening ceremony. A record 1.153 million attended over 15 days.
- 1959Religious leader Billy Graham set an all-time MCG attendance record of 130,000 for his Melbourne crusade.
- 196190,800 people attended the second day of the Australia v West Indies test.
- 1968The Western (now Ponsford) Stand was completed.
- 1970The first Sunday VFL match, Richmond v Fitzroy, took place before Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne at the MCG. The record VFL grand final crowd of 121,696 was established (Collingwood v Carlton).
- 1971The first ever one-day international cricket match was played between Australia and England.
- 1973The Eucharistic Congress was held.
- 1977The Centenary Test match between Australia and England resulted in a 45-run win to the home side - the same result as the match held 100 years before.
- 1982The MCG's first electronic scoreboard was unveiled.
- 1984A one-day international record crowd of 86,133 (Australia v West Indies) was established.
- 1985North Melbourne and Collingwood played the first VFL premiership match under the new MCG lights.
- 1992Opening of the Great Southern Stand and the final of cricket's World Cup, March 25, when 87,182 people watched Pakistan defeat England, a new world record crowd for one-day cricket.
- 1993Paul McCartney, U2 and Madonna concerts were staged on the ground.
- 1994A rugby league State of Origin match, Queensland v NSW, was played at the MCG on June 8 before a crowd of 87,161.
A second video scoreboard was installed at the eastern end of the ground in September.
- 1995The Rolling Stones played two concerts at the ground in March.
- 1996Special celebrations marked the VCA and AFL centenaries. The AFL Centenary Ball for 3200 guests was held on the arena. Michael Jackson staged two concerts in November.
- 1997The Three Tenors held a concert in March. The Bledisloe Cup rugby union test match between Australia and New Zealand was staged before an Australian rugby record crowd of 90,119. A World Cup Soccer qualifying match between Australia and Iran drew an Australian soccer record crowd of 85,022.
- 1998Billy Joel and Elton John played to big crowds in March.
The second MCG staging of a Bledisloe Cup attracted 75,147.
Mushroom Records celebrated 25 years of rock 'n roll with a spectacular concert at the MCG, drawing more than 55,000 to the ground.
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
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