Top 5 Major Sports & Entertainment Venues in Melbourne

February 17, 2016
Top 5 Major Sports & Entertainment Venues in Melbourne

The MCG

Bio:

The obvious number one on this list, the G’ is the spiritual home of Australian sport. First built in 1853, it now has a capacity of just over 100,000 patrons, making it the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere and tenth largest in the world.

It has played host to some of Australia’s most important sporting events including the 1956 Olympic Games, the Cricket World Cup (both in 1992 & 2015), the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the Boxing Day Test, and AFL’s most famous fixtures including Anzac Day and of course the Grand Final.

Known primarily as the home of football and cricket, seven teams proudly call the MCG their home including the Victoria Bushrangers and Melbourne Stars in domestic cricket, and the Melbourne, Richmond, Collingwood, Carlton, Hawthorn football clubs in the AFL.

Review:

Whilst the MCG runs fantastic tours and allows access to the National Sports Museum, if you’re new in town or are showing someone around who is, the best way to experience the G is by actually going to a sporting event.

Don’t get me wrong, the ground on face value is a marvel, both in terms of condition and rich history. However, I believe that the MCG truly comes to life when you have 50,000 plus fans making a hell of a racket.

All of my most treasured sporting memories have occurred at the coliseum, with the one exception of John Aloisi’s match-winning penalty to send us to the World Cup. That was at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, but I still remain that if it had happened here at the G’ it would’ve been even better. True Melbourne bias showing through there.

As it is situated just a kilometre away from Melbourne’s CBD, there are 101 ways to get to the MCG. Why not hop off the train at Flinders Street and enjoy a few beverages at a bar in Federation Square, then walk along the river and over the foot bridge to the ground. Or catch a train to Richmond and enjoy the hospitality before walking past the famous Punt Rd Oval. Or Jolimont station… the options are plentiful.

2016 dates to look out for:

• March 24 – AFL season kicks off - Richmond v Carlton.

• April 25 – Anzac Day clash - Collingwood v Essendon

• May 28 – Dream Time Game – Essendon v Richmond

• June 13 – Queen’s Birthday – Melbourne v Collingwood

• July 23-29 – International Champions Cup

• September 9 – AFL Finals commence

• October 1 – AFL Grand Final

• December 26 – Boxing Day Test

ETIHAD STADIUM

Bio:

Etihad Stadium, or Docklands Stadium as it officially known, has become Melbourne’s go-to place for sport, concerts and special events. Completed in 2000, the stadium was originally built as a replacement for Waverley Park and was intended mostly for AFL use. Now, it is regarded as one of the city’s most versatile venues.

With a seating capacity of over 53,000, Etihad Stadium has hosted some of the biggest names to grace Melbourne in the 21st century. International artists including U2, Coldplay, Eminem, AC DC, KISS, Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, One Direction and Foo Fighters have all performed here. Robbie Williams’ concert in 2006 generated the highest attendance for an entertainment show at Docklands, with a crowd figure of 64,619.

As well as being the home of five AFL clubs (Essendon, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Carlton), Etihad Stadium is also the home to BBL team Melbourne Renegades and A-League giants Melbourne Victory. Outside of these leagues, the venue also hosts the VFL Grand Final, Rugby Union tests, Socceroos fixtures and one off events such as the UFC.

Review:

When it comes to watching an event, there are three main factors that makes Etihad Stadium a great place to be: location, flexibility and viewing capacity.

Let’s start with location. If you want to get there by public transport, you can simply catch a train to Southern Cross station. Almost every train line runs through Southern Cross, including both Metro and V Line services. Given its location just off the western side of the CBD, Etihad is also easily accessible by a number of tram and bus lines. If you’re looking to grab food or a drink pre/post event, you have a plethora of options with both the CBD and Docklands Harbour a stones throw away.

With it’s retractable roof, Etihad Stadium adapts to all weather conditions meaning you won’t need a poncho if it rains and you can enjoy the sunshine if the skies are blue. The stadium also has retractable seating platforms, meaning that you will be as close to the action as possible whatever the spectacle.

Given its adaptability, there isn’t really a bad seat in the house at Docklands. Whether you’re on centre-wing on the fence or back row of the nose-bleeds, viewer visibility is of a high standard. Combine that with over 60 corporate boxes located around the ground and you are guaranteed to find the best way to enhance your own event experience.

2016 dates to look out for:

• February 12-14 – Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

• March 10 – AFL NAB Challenge

• March 26 – First AFL Home & Away game at Etihad Stadium

• September – VFL Grand Final

• October – A-League 2016/17 Season commences

• December – BBL|06 commences

AAMI PARK

Bio:

The Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, known as AAMI Park commercially, became Melbourne’s first large-purpose rectangular stadium in 2010. Its construction was a response to the city’s need for a major stadium designed specifically for sports such as soccer and rugby, which don’t require an oval shaped ground. Before 2010, the largest rectangular ground was Olympic Park which is now used primarily for track and field. The stadium has a capacity of just over 30,000, automatically qualifying it as one of Melbourne’s most important venues.

Major Melbourne league teams who call AAMI Park home include the Storm (NRL), the Victory and Melbourne City (A-League) and the Rebels (Super Rugby). In it’s first six years, the venue has hosted NRL finals, an A-League Grand Final, the Rugby League Four Nations series and AFC Asian Cup fixtures.

It has also played host to a number of international artists including Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen.

Review:

Aesthetically, AAMI Park is an impressive stadium. In 2012, it won the award for the most iconic and culturally significant stadium at the World Stadium Awards. With its bubble-like geodesic roof, it has now become an iconic Melbourne landmark situated just off the Yarra river, only a kilometre away from the CBD. Much like the MCG, it is easily accessible by public transport, with a number of train, tram and bus lines taking you right outside the ground.

But the thing that stands out most about AAMI Park is the patron experience. From a viewer perspective, there is a clear lack of obstructions from any angle and the unique roof design ensures cover from both rain and sunlight. The design of the stadium lends itself to a more intimidate supporter experience, creating a caldron-type atmosphere. When the crowd finds voice, you could swear there is 50,000 people in the place when there is only 20,000. This makes AAMI Park one of the most electric venues in Melbourne, and a highly recommended experience.

2016 dates to look out for:

• Feb-April – A-League 2015/16 season final rounds

• Feb 18 – Melbourne Rebels first home game for 2016 Super Rugby season

• March 7 – Melbourne Storm kick off NRL season at home

• April 25 – NRL Anzac Day game – Melbourne Storm v NZ Warriors

• June 18 – Wallabies v England Rugby Union Test

• October – A-League 2016/17 Season commences

ROD LAVER ARENA

Bio:

Opened in 1988, Rod Laver Arena has to go down as Australia’s most versatile sports and entertainment venue. In the 28 years since its completion, Rod Laver has transformed itself in accordance with the vast range of events it has hosted.

Rod Laver Arena is probably most known for its holding of the Australian Open. In 2015, it smashed its attendance record for the tournament, attracting over 700,000 fans during the two weeks of competition. Many tennis players have called the stadium their favourite to play on in any Grand Slam, due in most part to the electric atmosphere and enthusiast crowds.

When it’s not tennis season, Rod Laver welcomes all the biggest artists that come to Australia. From Hip Hop and R &B loyalty Jay Z and Beyoncé to rock legends David Bowie, The Eagles and Queen, if they’re somebody they’ve played here. Currently, Justin Timberlake holds the record for the highest attendance at a single performance with 16, 183, just pipping Metallica at 16, 156. Not bad company there.

Other notable achievements include its transformation into an aquatics centre in 2007 for the FINA World Aquatics Championships. The temporary pool was named Suzie O’Neill Pool, after the Australian swimming legend. Between 1992 and 2000, it was the home of both the Melbourne Tigers and South East Melbourne Magic (Victoria Titans) in the NBL, hosting 287 games. This year, Rod Laver will welcome back Nitro Circus, the action sports phenomenon, again illustrating its versatility.

Review:

It is hard not to love Rod Laver Arena. If you’re a tennis fan, or a sports fan in general, it’s a must. The noise generated in the building in big moments is unparalleled. When Roger Federer hits a classic back-hand down the line you want to be there, because watching on TV doesn’t do justice to the dynamic atmosphere. The same can be said when watching a live performer. Despite the venue holding over 15,000 people, the sound is so clear and insulated that you feel like you’re at a small gig at a local club.

Again, like AAMI Park, Rod Laver is easily accessible by public transport as it is a minor stone’s throw away from the CBD. Also similar to AAMI Park, there isn’t really a bad seat it the house, a further illustration of its intimate feel and design. Whether you are in one of the many corporate boxes or sitting in general admission, it is impossible to miss the action of some of the best entertainment in Melbourne.

2016 dates to look out for:

• Jan 18-31 – The Australian Open

• February 20 – Rob Thomas

• March 12-13 – Madonna

• March 21 – Kendrick Lamar

• May 27-29 – Nitro Circus

• June 16 – Ice Hockey Classic – USA v Canada

• October 25 – André Rieu

FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE

Bio:

Located along the Maribyrnong river, Flemington Racecourse is Australia’s oldest and undoubtedly most famous continuing metropolitan racecourse. Victoria’s history has long been associated with horse racing, and Flemington embodies the love and passion for the state’s favourite past time.

Since it’s first recorded race meeting in 1840, the racecourse has constantly grown and revamped its facilities and now welcomes as many as 120,000 fans and punters on its marquee race days. In 1861, Flemington hosted its first Melbourne Cup, and by the 1880s the prestigious race was drawing an estimated 100,000 people in attendance. To this day, the race that stops the nation is now regarded as a treasured jewel in Australia’s sporting calendar, and is a tradition that all Victorians are proud to hold ownership of. A platform for history-making, in 2015 we witnessed the first female jockey, Michelle Payne, to ever lift the coveted cup.

Whilst the Melbourne Cup is the centrepiece of the Australian racing year, Flemington plays host to three other major Spring Racing Carnival race days including Derby Day, Emirates Stakes Day and Crown Oaks Day. Each day with its own themes and traditions, the Spring Carnival is as famous for its fashion and prestige as it is sporting greatness. In 2006, the attendance record at Flemington was broken on Derby Day with over 129,000 racing enthusiasts pouring through the gates.

Aside from the race days themselves, Flemington Racecourse also hold a variety of events for all ages ranging from cocktail parties to children’s days to wine & beer exhibitions. Whatever the season, it is recommended to check out Flemington’s landscape gardens and rose gardens, which are the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Review:

As a frequent race-goer I can’t say enough about Flemington Racecourse. The thing that stands out for me is the wealth of options and experiences at your disposal on any given race day. Whether you are out on the public lawn, or have hired a carpark spot in the nursery, or have found your way into a private marquee, you are guaranteed to have a fun-filled day. The grandstands provide the perfect spot to view some of the world’s greatest thoroughbreds, whilst on the ground the lawn is a great place to see the action up close. If the bar is more your scene, there are a number of great places around the racecourse to enjoy a beverage of your choosing, as well as many food stalls and restaurants.

Flemington is an inner suburb only 4 kms outside the city centre, so the racecourse itself is in an ideal location for commuters. Flemington Racecourse has its own railway station which operates on race days, conveniently dropping patrons off at the gates entrances, while the 57 tram line also does the same on the Epsom Rd side. Whichever way you choose to travel, make sure you experience the race days and events at Flemington, they are not to be missed.

2016 dates to look out for:

• March 12 - Flemington Grazing Trail & Cellar Door

• June 25 - David Bourke Provincial Plate

• September 10 - Sofitel Girls' Day Out

• October 1 - Turnbull Stakes Day

• October 29 - AAMI Victoria Derby Day

• November 1 - Emirates Melbourne Cup Day

• November 3 - Crown Oaks Day

• November 5 - Emirates Stakes Day

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