Docklands Stadium

Docklands Stadium, is a multi-purpose sports and entertainment stadium in the Docklands area of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Construction started in October 1997, under the working name “Victoria Stadium”, and was completed in 2000 at a cost of A$460 million.

Originally built as a replacement for Waverley Park, the stadium is primarily used for Australian rules football and is the headquarters of the Australian Football League (AFL) which, since 7 October 2016, has had exclusive ownership of the venue. Also headquartered in the stadium precinct is Seven Network’s digital broadcast centre.

The stadium also hosts a number of other sporting events, including some domestic Twenty20 cricket matches, Melbourne Victory soccer home matches, one-off rugby league and rugby union matches as well as number of special events and concerts.

Stadium features

  • Retractable roof 38 metres (125 ft) above the playing surface, opens east-west, and takes eight minutes to fully open or close.
  • Movable seating (4 sections of the lower tier can move 18 metres forward to give a rectangular configuration)
  • Two large internal replay screens which display scores and advertisements.
  • Oval shaped, turf playing surface of 19,053 square metres (205,080 sq ft) or 170 by 140 m (560 by 460 ft)
  • Over 700 2000-watt lights for arena illumination
  • A varying capacity of between 12,000 and 74,000, depending on the event. For example, seats can be laid on the ground.
  • An AFL capacity of 53,359
  • Dimensions of playing area are 159.5 metres by 128.5 metres (174.4 yards by 140.5 yards)
  • The ends of the ground, where the AFL goal posts are located, are generally named after VFL/AFL goal-kicking legends Tony ‘Plugger’ Lockett and Gordon Coventry. Theses are temporaily altered depending on the playing teams.

Naming rights

The stadium was constructed by Baulderstone Hornibrook and opened on 9 March 2000 as “Colonial Stadium”. Colonial State Bank paid $32.5 million for 10 years of naming rights. In 2000, Commonwealth Bank took over Colonial State Bank and later sold the naming rights to Telstra for about $50 million. The name was changed to “Telstra Dome” on 1 October 2002. During this time it was colloquially referred to as simply “The Dome”, including by clubs which are sponsored by rival telecommunications companies (such as Essendon, which at the time were sponsored by 3 and Carlton which also at the time were sponsored by Optus). On 1 March 2009, when the naming rights transferred to Etihad Airways, the venue officially became known as “Etihad Stadium” and in August 2012 the partnership was extended for five more years until 2019. Etihad Airways paid an estimated $5–$8 million a year for naming rights at the Docklands stadium. Controversy surrounded the new name, with the AFL initially refusing to recognise it. AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan confirmed the AFL would not recognise the new name due to a lucrative sponsorship deal between the AFL and Australia’s largest airline, Qantas. After negotiation between the two parties, AFL broadcasters and clubs are permitted by the governing body to use the stadium’s sponsored name. In September 2018, the stadium was renamed for a fourth time, to “Marvel Stadium”, after the stadium operators negotiated a deal with The Walt Disney Company (the parent company of Marvel Entertainment) to change the naming rights and install a Marvel retail store at the venue.

Teams

The Docklands Stadium is the official home ground to five AFL teams. Carlton, Essendon, North Melbourne, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs use the stadium as their primary home ground, although all the Victorian-based teams have played home games at the ground. The AFL highest home and away attendance recorded at the Docklands Stadium was set on 5 July 2009 when 54,444 people watched St Kilda play Geelong in Round 14.

Cricket

On 16 August 2000, the first indoor One Day International was held when the Australian cricket team played South Africa in the “Super Challenge”. It has been a venue for usually off-season one day matches but it held the first game of the 2004 Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series in December and 3 VB Series matches in 2006 due to the Melbourne Cricket Ground being unavailable due to preparations for it being the main stadium for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Big Bash Cricket is held regularly at Docklands.