|Operator||Melbourne Stadiums Limited|
|2000 →||North Melbourne|
|2000 →||St Kilda|
|2000 →||Western Bulldogs|
Docklands Stadium (also known by its former sponsored names of Colonial Stadium and Telstra Dome as well as its current sponsorship name of Etihad Stadium) is a multi-purpose sports and entertainment stadium in the Docklands precinct 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, as part of the construction deal, assumes ownership of the ground in 2025. Also headquartered at the stadium is Seven Network's digital broadcast centre.
The stadium has been host to other sporting events, including Melbourne Victory soccer matches and one-off matches forcricket, rugby league and rugby union as well as number of special events and concerts.
The stadium has been controversial since its first construction and there has been a significant amount of criticism directed toward the facility, particularly from its major tenant, the AFL. The AFL have increasingly regarded the stadium owner as a hostile landlord, engaging in numerous lawsuits against the current owners and threatening to build a rival stadium as close as a kilometre away in the short-term.
The stadium was announced on 31 October 1996 as a replacement for the much larger Waverley Park as a headquarters for the Australian Football League.Originally developed by the Docklands Stadium Consortium and thereafter controlled by the Seven Network, the remaining leasehold interest in the stadium was sold to James Fielding Funds Management on 21 June 2006 for A$330 million. In 2025 the AFL will take over the ownership of the stadium.
Docklands Stadium, like Waverley Park, was built primarily for Australian rules football, unlike most grounds of a similar size in Australia which were originally designed for cricket.
The first match to be played at the ground was between Essendon and Port Adelaide, before a crowd of 43,012, in Round 1 of the 2000 AFL season. Essendon won the match by 94 points.
The stadium was the first stadium in Australia to have movable seating. All four level-one tiers of the stadium can be moved up to 18 metres forward into a rectangular configuration. It was first used for a Melbourne Storm game in July 2001. Despite the seating being a key feature of the stadium, it has rarely been used, citing damage to turf, time to deploy the seats and a reduced capacity (the corners of the stadium in level 1 are not movable).
In 2015 LED electronic advertising was added around the perimeter of the ground on level 1 and 2.
In March 2016, it was announced that Collingwood president Eddie McGuire had taken a proposal to the state government for the stadium to be sold for redevelopment when the AFL gain ownership of the stadium in 2025, with a new similar size stadium built within the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct.
Home teams Edit
The Docklands Stadium is officially 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.
As well as the five AFL teams, Melbourne Victory play 5 home games and home finals matches at the ground.
In the 2001 NRL season the stadium was the home ground for the Melbourne Storm. It also hosted one home game in 2008 and three home games in 2010. In 2007 and 2009, the stadium was also used as the Storm's home finals venue due to the low capacity of its then normal home ground, Olympic Park Stadium.
The Big Bash League side Melbourne Renegades also plays its home games at the Docklands Stadium.
Naming rights history Edit
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 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 who are sponsored by rival telecommunications companies (such as Essendon, who at the time were sponsored by 3 and Carlton who also at the time were sponsored by Optus). On March 1, 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 are paying 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.
Stadium features Edit
- 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.
- External super screen
- 1000 video seats
- 13 function rooms
- 66 corporate boxes
- Premium Club membership area, The Medallion Club
- 500 car parking spaces below the ground
- 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. The northern end is the Lockett End, and the southern end, the Coventry End. These names are subject to changes as appropriate for circumstances: for Essendon home matches, the Coventry End is renamed the Lloyd End and the Lockett End is renamed the Fletcher End, for Western Bulldogs home matches, the Lockett End is renamed the Footscray End and for VFL games, the ends are renamed after VFA/VFL goal-kicking legends Jim 'Frosty' Miller and Fred Cook.
Several issues with the Docklands Stadium have caused growing resentment within the Australian Football League and prompted the league to publicly investigate an alternative third venue. At times this venue has been suggested as a redeveloped Princes Park Football Ground or a rival stadium in the Docklands area.
Playing surface issues Edit
Since its inception, the Docklands Stadium has endured criticism over the quality and suitability of its playing surface, in particular for AFL requirements. It has been criticised by players and coaches for its slipperiness, hardness and lack of grass coverage. The turf has required regular expensive replacement since its inception due to a lack of sunlight inside the stadium. The turf itself is supplied under contract by HG Turf, whereas the responsibility of laying and managing the turf lies with Docklands Stadium management.
Issues with the ground's ability to grow grass all year round can be attributed to the stadium's irregular North-South orientation which was a requirement due to its placement between the surrounding roads and Docklands body of water. In particular, the Northern end of the stadium only receives 6 weeks of sunlight a year. Concerts held at the stadium are also usually placed at the Southern end due to the ability for grass to recover faster in that section of the ground.
In August 2007, Docklands Stadium chief executive Ian Collins confirmed talks were underway to purchase an elaborate lighting and heating system to allow grass to be grown by curators all year round. This followed extensive visits by Docklands Stadium officials to several FIFA World Cup venues in Germany, locations in the United States and Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium.
In 2007, studies were conducted by the University of Melbourne to investigate concerns that hard surfaces, such as the surface at the Docklands Stadium increase the likelihood of player injury, in particular anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries (knee).
There has been controversy during the 2015 AFL season about the synthetic turf installed around the perimeter of the playing surface, particularly around the AFL interchange gates as well as where the goals are located. This was highlighted after a Brisbane Lions player suffered a season ending ACL injury and one coach labeling the surface 'dangerous' after a game at the venue.
A typical AFL match at Docklands Stadium
Record setting attendance at the 23 May 2012 State of Origin match between Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues.
- Largest attendance
Keep Seeking First God's Kingdom - 2014 International Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses
19 October 2014
- Largest AFL attendance
Round 14, 5 July 2009
St Kilda vs Geelong
- Largest International Rules attendance
2nd test, 28 October 2005
Australia vs Ireland
45,428 people 41]
AFL recordsedit Edit
- Most goals kicked in a match: Mark LeCras (West Coast Eagles), 12.2 (74), 17 July 2010 (West Coast 20.12 (132) defeated Essendon 14.16 (100)
- First AFL goal kicked: Michael Long (Essendon), 9 March 2000 (Essendon 24.12 (156) defeated Port Adelaide 8.14 (62))
- Highest score: Geelong Cats 35.12 (222) defeated Richmond 9.11 (65), 6 May 2007
- Lowest score: Adelaide Crows 3.6 (24) defeated by St Kilda 19.13 (127), 22 July 2011
- Highest margin: Geelong Cats (vs Richmond), 157 points, 6 May 2007
- Highest score in a quarter: Essendon 15.4 (94) vs. Gold Coast Suns 0.1 (1), 1 May 2011
Bold indicates the player is still active in the AFL.
2010 stadium damage Edit
The venue was damaged by a thunderstorm on the afternoon of 6 March 2010 during the 2010 Victorian storms. The external roof (not the main retractable roof) caved in, causing damage and flooding in one of the stadium's entertainment precincts. Because of the damage the St Kilda v Fremantle NAB Cup semi-final was delayed due to WorkSafe inspections. Only around 5000 people made it back into the arena when it was safe to return.