The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), sometimes referred to as “The ‘G” by locals, is a sporting venue located in Yarra Park, Melbourne.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground was built and is operated by the Melbourne Cricket Club. It is the second-biggest cricket venue in terms of capacity. The MCG is also the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, and the 11th largest worldwide.
It is walking distance from the centre of Melbourne CBD. You can also get there via the Richmond and Jolimont railway stations, as well as the route 70, route 75, and route 48 trams. It is a part of the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct and is situated next to Melbourne Park.
The MCG was included to the Australian National Heritage List in 2005 and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. It serves as “a shrine, a fortress, a landmark, and a totem” – that “symbolises Melbourne to the world,” according to journalist Greg Baum in 2003.
Major Events at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
The MCG has undergone various alterations since it was constructed in 1853. It served as the main venue for the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. As well as the 1992 and 2015 Cricket World Cups. Additionally, it will host the Commonwealth Games’ opening ceremonies in 2026.
Cricket and Football at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
The MCG, known for its contribution to the growth of international cricket. It served as the site of the first One Day International between Australia and England in 1877 and 1971, respectively. Since Australian rules football was established in 1859, it has also maintained close ties with this sport. The MCG has become the primary location for Australian Football League (AFL) games. Every year it hosts the AFL Grand Final, the league championship game with the greatest attendance in the world. Additionally, it hosted the Grand Final for the 2022 T20 World Cup.
International Events at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
The MCG also serves as the location of the Australian Sports Museum. Plus, it has previously hosted important sporting events such as FIFA World Cup qualifiers, international rugby union games and State of Origin (rugby league) games. As well as international rules football games between Australia and Ireland. The venue frequently hosts concerts and other cultural events. A Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in 1959 had the record-high attendance of 143,750.
Stadium development in the 1800’s
The earliest grandstand at the MCG was the old wooden members’ stand, which was constructed in 1854. In contrast, a temporary, 200-meter-long, 6,000-seat grandstand was constructed in 1861 for the general public. Another grandstand with 2000 seats was constructed in 1876 for the visit of James Lillywhite’s English cricket team in 1877, facing one way towards the cricket ground and the other towards the park where football was played. The first Test match ever played at the MCG took place during this tour.
In 1881 the original member’s stand was sold to the Richmond Cricket Club for £55. A new brick stand was built in its place and at the time it was considered the finest cricket facility in the world. The cornerstone was laid on July 4th by Prince George of Wales and Prince Albert Victor, and the stand opened in December of the same year. In 1881, a telephone was installed above ground, and the ticket gates and gateposts were changed from east-west to north-south. Then, in 1882, a scoreboard was made showing the batsmen’s names and dismissals.
In 1884, the lillywhite tour stand burned down and it was replaced by a new stand which seated 450 members and 4500 public. Second-storey wings were added to the grandstand in 1897, increasing the capacity to 9,000. It was lit with electric light in 1900.
20th Century development
Early in the 20th century, more stands were constructed. On the south side of the field, there was an open wooden stand in 1904, then in 1906, the 2084-seat Grey Smith Stand (known as the New Stand until 1912) was built for members. On the southern edge of the field, the 4000-seat Harrison Stand and the 8000-seat Wardill Stand were constructed in 1908 and 1912, respectively. The capacity of the grandstand at the stadium expanded to approximately 20,000 in the 15 years after 1897, while the total capacity of the stadium was close to 60,000.
At a cost of £60,000, the second brick members’ stand was replaced in 1927. In order to make room for the Southern Stand, which was finished in 1937, the Harrison and Wardill Stands were destroyed in 1936. The main gathering place for spectators at the MCG was the Southern Stand, which had 18,200 covered seats and 13,000 open ones. According to the Health Department, the ground could hold up to 84,000 people in a seated position and 94,000 people in a standing position in this configuration.
1956 Olympics at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
For the Olympic Games in 1956, the Northern Stand, also referred to as the Olympic Stand, was constructed in place of the previous Grandstand. Regulations from the Health Department called for raising the stadium’s capacity to 120,000; however, this was reduced following the 1956 VFL Grand Final since the 115,802 spectators it attracted could not be accommodated satisfactorily.
The Western Stand was built in place of the Grey Smith Stand. It was dedicated on March 3, 1967, by the Duke of Edinburgh. It was finished in 1968. Then, in 1986, it was given the name W.H. Ponsford Stand in honour of Bill Ponsford, a Victorian batsman. This was the stadium’s highest seating arrangement and the largest crowd ever.
This stand was home to Australia’s first full colour video scoreboard, which replaced the old scoreboard. It was located on Level 4 of the Western Stand. However this stand caught fire in 1999 and was replaced in 2000. In 1994, a second screen was added almost directly opposite, on Level 4 of the Olympic stand. Light towers were installed at the ground in 1985. This allowed night football and day-night cricket matches to happen.
The maximum seating capacity of the grandstand has been reduced to about 95,000 people. Plus, an additional 5,000 people can stand without taking up any additional space, bringing the total capacity to 100,024.
If you would like to learn more about the history of Melbourne and visit the city’s iconic attractions, join us on a Go West Tour.
Written by: Jessica Senden – Marketing Intern @gowest.com.au