The MCG: Australia’s Greatest Stadium

This Saturday The ‘G will be empty on Grand Final day for just the second time in AFL history.

Were this year a normal one, the MCG would be packed with 100,000 Richmond and Geelong fans who’ve waited all year to watch the nation’s anticipated match. Yet 2020 just keeps delivering blow after blow, one of which will see the first AFL Grand Final in history hosted outside the MCG. 

Luckily for Victorians, this won’t be a new tradition. In 2018 it was announced the MCG will continue to be home to the Grand Final until at least 2057. This news was reported under a deal with the Victorian Government where $500m will be spent to maintain and redevelop Melbourne’s sporting grounds.

These upgrades ensure “the MCG remains the premier stadium in the country, if not the world.”

The assurances have also given the Melbourne Cricket Club the security to go ahead and invest money into necessary stadium upgrades over the coming years.

A walk down memory lane 

The MCG was first built in 1853, and sat on the corner of William and Latrobe Streets in Melbourne’s CBD. In October 1846, the MCG moved to its current home in East Melbourne where it has since hosted countless historic Aussie moments. 

The very first grandstand was dubbed the “Reversible Stand Seating”. It was built in 1876 by architect George Browne and builder Peter Cunningham, and seated 2,000 spectators. 

In 1862, the very first international cricket match between Australia and England took place where we were victorious, winning 4-1. 

The Victorian Football Association (VFL) formally officiated in 1879 and the MCG became the home of Victorian Football.  The very first VFL game was played at the MCG on the 15 of May in 1897, when the Melbourne Demons beat the Geelong Cats, 64 to 19.

The MCG’s record for its highest attendance for all sporting events was set at the 1970 VFL Grand Final, with an outstanding 121,696 spectators. 

Redeveloping the ‘G

Grocon built the new members MCC stand as we know it and love today. 

We sat down with the former Executive Project Manager of Grocon, Steve Richardson. Steve worked with Grocon for over 20 years, and reminisced on the MCG redevelopment; one of his finest accomplishments.  He recalls working tirelessly over 18 months to deliver the project.

He and his team knew the pressure was on to get the works done in time for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Even though there were times this seemed too big a task, they knew they would push forward to make it happen.

Steve joked that some of this motivation to complete on time stemmed from his hopes for the Anzac day grudge match, Collingwood v Essendon.

“I’m a pretty one eyed Collingwood supporter, always have been, and I wanted Collingwood to be the first AFL game to be played there”.

Steve Richardson

During the reconstruction period of 2003-2006, AFL Grand Finals and Boxing Day Tests both took place uninterrupted.

Grocon’s impressive works on the MCG boast building world class cricket and football facilities, 4,500 restaurant and cafe seats in 54 separate restaurants, bars and food concessions, 370 car spaces, integrated TV broadcast, studio and distribution facilities and an entirely new MCG playing surface where magic moments are made every weekend on the field.  

MCG highlights and special moments

– The MCG was used as the stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field events, and the finals in field hockey and soccer. 

– Hosting legendary performances from Michael Jackson in 1996, and Elton John and Billy Joel in 1998.

– A friendly match of soccer between Brazil and Australia in 1999 with 70,795 in attendance.

– The iconic 2005 Boxing Day Test Match which saw Michael Hussey scoring 122 and Australia having a 184-run win over South Africa. 

– Hosting the 2006 Commonwealth Games. 

– Countless iconic ANZAC Day matches each year between Collingwood and Essendon. 

– The 2006 Sydney vs West Coast Grand Final where Sydney ended its 72-year drought with a 4 point win over West Coast. 

These are just some of our favourite MCG moments and you can watch the Grocon development along with some of these highlights here

The future 

It’s been a crazy ride in 2020 and although it may be a very different view at the ‘G this Saturday, Victorians can look forward to eating meat pies with their mates and watching their favourites win flags, take wickets and accomplish inspiring sporting feats there for many, many more years to come.

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Image source: MCG Tours

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