Today I introduce a stadium I have visited many times - The Melbourne Cricket Ground - MCG. Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, a southern state of Australia.
Lord’s, Wembley, Old Trafford, Eden Gardens and Yankee Stadium are considered among the greatest sporting arenas in the world, but for history, pure drama and emotion, it’s hard to look past the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The ground was built way back in 1853 when the then 15-year-old Melbourne Cricket Club was forced by the government to move from its former site because the route of Australia’s first steam train was to pass through the oval.
Since then the MCG has established a marvellous history that compares favourably with any other in the world, hosting plenty of international cricket including the first-ever Test and the 1992 World Cup final, countless VFL/AFL Grand Finals, and the 1956 Olympic Games.
Other sporting spectacles that have been held there are Australian World Cup soccer qualifiers, rugby league home and away matches and State of Origin, international rugby union clashes and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Apart from its sporting events, the MCG has also witnessed many blockbuster music concerts, and even Pope John Paul II held a mass there when he visited Melbourne in 1986. People from all over Australia, and indeed all over the world, speak reverently about the MCG, a ground that is as well-known as any other.
Since its inception in 1838, the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) has regarded the preservation and display of its rich heritage collection as paramount. The display of this heritage when hosting visitors and significant events at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has given the MCG an enviable reputation.
In December 2005, the MCG was granted Australia's highest heritage honour - inclusion on the National Heritage List - in recognition of its outstanding significance to the nation.
The northern stand redevelopment completed the following year provided the MCC with the opportunity to enhance its commitment to heritage with a much-improved MCC Museum and other heritage features throughout the stadium, including the Tattersall’s Parade of Champions and the National Sports Museum.
It’s also fitting in that a great number of the sports stars honoured in the National Sports Museum have etched their names in the national memory through their achievements here at the MCG.
MCG Facts and Figures
Find out the latest facts and figures about the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground! The number of seats, the size of the arena, type of grass used - it's all here.
The total capacity of the MCG is approximately 100,000.
This comprises 95,000 seats and 5000 standing room spaces, which are sold at the discretion of the event promoter.
However, the realistic capacity for most events is usually between 98,000 and 99,000 as often not all standing room tickets are placed on sale.
The MCG was first surveyed in 1861 by MCC committeeman Robert Bagot, who changed the ground’s configuration into what is today’s conventional oval. It previously was an irregular hexagon with a band rotunda in the northern corner.
The arena remained virtually unchanged until it was re-modelled to international athletics specifications and a cinder track was installed for the Olympic Games in November 1956.
After the Games, much of the arena was reconstructed and red mountain soil laid to a depth of about 60cm. Compaction over the years gave this soil the consistency of clay and major drainage problems began to surface in the late 1980s.
In the spring of 1992 the arena was completely reconstructed with a sand-based profile, giving the ground remarkable drainage characteristics and superior load-bearing ability.
The MCG arena now has a total of approximately 20,000 square metres in area and measures 173.6 long x 148.3 metres wide, from fence to fence. The boundary line is located five metres inside the fence.
The volume of the MCG is 1,700,000 cubic metres, or 1.7 million cubic metres.
The goal posts for AFL matches are 15 metres in height (point posts are 10 metres high)) and the length of the cricket pitch is 22 yards, which in metric terms is 20.12 metres. Other AFL-specific measurements are:
- Centre square - four lines are each 50 metres in length.
- Goal square width is 6.4 metres.
- Goal square length is 9 metres.
The ground holds 114 sprinklers and the grass is a mixture of couch and rye grass.
In any given year, approximately 3000m2 of the centre corridor could be re-laid, depending on wear.
This number has been greatly reduced due to the use of artificial growth lights that can be deployed in numerous configurations to overcome shade and wear issues during the winter.
Approximately 350 man-hours are spent per week maintaining the turf, which includes rolling, cutting, line marking, fertilising, repairing irrigation, deploying artificial lighting rigs, re-turfing, match preparation, equipment maintenance, planning and scheduling.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
Any watering of the MCG turf will comply with the current guidelines for Stage 3 Water Restrictions as detailed in the relevant water authorities’ Drought Response Plan’.The grass is cut daily in summer and twice a week in the winter. It is cut at a length of 11mm during the summer and 27mm during the winter.
The MCG sirens comprise of eight banks of four horns each strategically located around the ground. Their locations are:
Northern Stand - The siren banks are mounted in four positions on the lighting gantry at Bays 33, 38, 45 and 51.
Great Southern Stand - The siren banks are mounted in four positions on the lighting gantry at Bays 2, 8, 15 and 23.
The siren controls are located in the Ron Casey Media Centre on Level 3 of the Olympic Stand and are operated by pressing two red buttons simultaneously. In the advent of a power failure, there is a UPS system in place to guard against this occurrence.
Attendance figures are governed by the bar code scanning turnstiles and other devices at all entry points around the ground.
Depending on the entry point, attendance figures are broken up into various categories, which are used for statistical information and future reference.
The categories include MCC members, MCC members’ visitors, AFL members, AFL members’ guests, Corporate, (suites and dining rooms), officials, media, Home Club members, Away Club members, Reserved seating and General Admission.
The access control software registers each patron entering the ground as their ticket is scanned and calculates the actual attendance figure.
The official attendance figure is then relayed to the scoreboard control room to post onto the scoreboards and is usually done at about the 15-minute mark of the last quarter during football or the last hour of other events.
The MCG has two electronic video screen vision boards, located on Level 4 at either end of the new northern stand.
The western end vision board was re-installed in April, 2004 as part of the MCG redevelopment. It had initially been removed in October, 2002 when the Ponsford Stand was demolished.
A second vision board - a Sony JumboTron - had existed in the Olympic Stand since September 1994, but was removed and sold prior to the demolition of the Olympic Stand in October, 2004.
A new state-of-the-art Mitsubishi screen at the eastern end was installed in late-2005.
MCG patrons have been well served by scoreboards since the early days. There was a large informative board erected at the western end of the ground in 1881 and a more sophisticated brick scoreboard replaced it in 1895.
In 1907 another scoreboard, of timber construction and operated by a bicycle chain mechanism, was erected at the Punt Road end of the ground. It was later relocated to the city end and informed spectators for more than 70 years before it was replaced by the country’s first full-colour video replay scoreboard in 1982.
Security and Surveillance Cameras
There are a number of security and surveillance cameras around the venue. These are used for protection of property and assets and for the purposes of crowd control on event days.
On an event day the surveillance cameras are controlled by the Police in the upper levels of the Olympic Stand and are used to detect inappropriate behaviour in the crowd.
Security at the MCG has control of various surveillance cameras that are used primarily for the protection of the property and many assets the ground has displayed.
Clancy's comment: the M.C.G sure is a fine stadium. The atmosphere, at an Australian Rules Football Grand Final, is simply breathtaking.