Docklands Stadium

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"Telstra Dome" redirects here. For the stadium in Sydney previously known as Telstra Stadium, see Stadium Australia.
For the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, see City of Manchester Stadium.
Docklands Stadium
Etihad Stadium logo.svg
Etihad Stadium crop.jpg
Former names Colonial Stadium
Telstra Dome
Location Harbour Esplanade, Melbourne Docklands
Coordinates 37°48′59″S 144°56′51″E / 37.81639°S 144.94750°E / -37.81639; 144.94750Coordinates: 37°48′59″S 144°56′51″E / 37.81639°S 144.94750°E / -37.81639; 144.94750
Owner James Fielding Funds Management
Operator Melbourne Stadiums Limited
Capacity 56,347 (Venue Capacity)
53,359 (Seating Capacity)
Surface Grass
Broke ground October 1997
Opened 9 March 2000
Construction cost A$460 million
Architect Populous
General contractor Baulderstone Hornibrook
Essendon Football Club (AFL) (2000–present)
St Kilda Football Club (AFL) (2000–present)
North Melbourne Football Club (AFL) (2002–present)
Western Bulldogs (AFL) (2000–present)
Carlton Football Club (AFL) (2005–present)
Melbourne Victory FC (A-League) (2006–present)
Melbourne Storm (NRL)(2001, 2010)
Melbourne Renegades (BBL) (2011–present)
Speedway Grand Prix of Australia (2015–)

Docklands Stadium (also known by its former sponsored names of Colonial Stadium and Telstra Dome, and 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",[1] 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, one-off matches for sports including cricket, rugby league and rugby union, and several specialised 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[2] and threatening to build a rival stadium as close as a kilometre away in the short-term.[2]

In October 2014 it was announced that stadium management had signed a 5-year deal to host the Speedway Grand Prix of Australia as part of the Speedway Grand Prix series from 2015. This will be the first SGP of Aust since it was held for the only time in 2002 at the Stadium Australia in Sydney.[3]


Docklands Stadium is seen here under construction (Christmas 1998)

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.[4] The opening match was played between Essendon and Port Adelaide before a crowd of 43,012. Essendon was victorious by 94 points, with full-forward Matthew Lloyd kicking seven goals.[5] 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.[6] In 2025 the AFL will take over the ownership of the stadium.[7]

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.

In 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 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.

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).

Docklands Stadium first featured rugby league football when it was used as the Melbourne Storm's home ground for one season in 2001. The Storm continued to play home games at the ground sporadically in the following years. Docklands was also the venue for the third and deciding game of the 2006 State of Origin series and Australia's home game against New Zealand in the 2006 Tr-nations series. During the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Australia played England at the stadium and the opening games of the 2009 and 2012 State of Origin series were also played here, the latter attracting 56,021, a new record for rugby league at the stadium.[8]

In 2015 LED electronic advertising was added around the perimeter of the ground on level 1 and 2.

One-off events[edit]

Docklands Stadium with an open roof (Good Friday 2011)

Events that have been held at the Docklands Stadium include concerts by many famous artists.

KISS performed on 28 February 2003, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, for their live CD/DVD, Kiss Symphony: Alive IV.

The ground hosted two quarter finals of the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the Rugby 7s at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.[9] The stadium was used in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup for the Australia vs England game. In the summer months it is used as the home ground for Melbourne Victory games in the A-League and the AFC Champions League. The stadium has been used for State of Origin series matches when they are played in Melbourne. This ground hosted the opening match of the 2012 series, earmarked as a New South Wales home game.

The stadium hosted a match from the International Rules Series in 2005 (due to the MCG undergoing works for the Commonwealth Games) and hosted another in 2011. Since 2003, it has been the venue for the E. J. Whitten Legends Game.

In 2001, Melbourne Knights and South Melbourne Hellas staged the only National Soccer League game to be held at this stadium.

WWE hosted an International pay-per-view event at the stadium on 10 August 2002 as part of the WWE Global Warning Tour. The event attracted 56,734 fans.

In May 2013, the stadium hosted a match between Queanbeyan Football Club and Werribee Football Club as part of the Foxtel Cup.[10]

On 14–15 February 2015, One Direction will perform at the stadium as part of their "On The Road Again" tour.[11]


Date Performer(s) Attendance Notes
1 December 2002 Red Hot Chili Peppers Part of the By The Way Tour
28 February 2003 KISS Recording of Kiss Symphony: Alive IV
20 March 2003 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Part of The Rising Tour
17 December 2005 Green Day Part of the American Idiot World Tour
18–19 November 2006 U2 Part of the Vertigo Tour
17–18 December 2006 Robbie Williams DJ 125,274 Part of the Close Encounters Tour
13–15 November 2008 Andre Rieu Part of his stadium tour with the Johann Strauss Orchestra
20 November 2009 Pearl Jam 45,000 Part of the Backspacer Tour
3 March 2010 George Michael 47,000 Part of the George Michael Live in Australia tour
11,13 & 15 February 2010 AC/DC 181,495 Part of the Black Ice World Tour
1 & 3 December 2010 You Two 105,312 Part of the U2 360° Tour
11 December 2010 Bon Jovi 54,414 Part of The Circle Tour
31 December 2010 Armin van Buuren 15,000 Part of 'Armin Only Mirage' event
1 December 2011 Eminem 61,405 Part of The Recovery Tour
13 November 2012 Coldplay 63,378 Part of the Mylo Xyloto Tour
5 January 2013 Mariah Carey 46,500 Part of her one-off Australian tour
5–6 March 2013 KISS/Mötley Crüe Part of the Monster Tour
7 & 8 December 2013 Bon Jovi 91,505 Part of the Because We Can: The Tour
14 December 2013 Taylor Swift 47,257 Part of the Red Tour
19 February 2014 Eminem 59,675 Part of the Rapture 2014
18 & 19 September 2014 Justin Timberlake 41,777 Part of The 20/20 Experience World Tour
14–15 February 2015 One Direction Part of On the Road Again Tour
28 February 2015 Food Fighters Part of the Sonic Highways World Tour

Home teams[edit]

The Docklands Stadium is officially home ground to four AFL teams. St Kilda, North Melbourne, Essendon 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.

Melbourne Victory also occasionally play matches at Docklands. Originally, the plan was that the stadium would only be used for A-League games against the Victory's biggest rivals, Sydney FC, in the 2006/07 A-League season due to the prediction of a large crowd. All other games were supposed to be at the Victory's usual home ground, Olympic Park Stadium. A record crowd of 39,730 attended the game. After the success of the game, the Victory found Olympic Park's capacity of 18,000 too small, especially after the Round 4 match at Olympic Park attracted a capacity crowd of 17,617. Melbourne then moved all their home games except one against the struggling New Zealand Knights to Docklands for the 2006/07 season. The move was a success, with a 27,000 crowd average. The Victory decided to move all their home games permanently from the 2007/08 season. This also gave the stadium a major summer tenant, which the stadium lacked in its early years.

Melbourne Victory continued to play all games at Docklands until the end of the 2009/10 season, when their new home at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium was completed. The Victory would play blockbuster and finals games at Docklands, with all other games being played at the new stadium. The Victory still play 5 home games at the venue as well as all home finals matches.

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.[12] 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 1 March 2009 the name was changed to Etihad Stadium, for an expected period of five years,[13] when the naming rights transferred to Etihad Airways.[14] Etihad Airways are paying an estimated $5–$8 million a year for naming rights at the Docklands stadium.[15] Controversy surrounds 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.[16] 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]

A section of the movable seating.
One of the large LCDs at Docklands Stadium
  • Retractable roof 38 metres (125 ft) above the playing surface, opens east-west, and takes eight minutes to fully open or close.[9]
  • 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, for Western Bulldogs home matches, the Lockett End is renamed the Footscray End [17] 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.[18][19]

Playing surface issues[edit]

Interior of the Docklands Stadium with the roof closed. Taken during a Collingwood vs Port Adelaide AFL Match. 1 July 2005

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.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22]

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.[22]

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).[23]



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
    70,059 people "Etihad Stadium Records". 

AFL records[edit]



  • Best winning percentage: Geelong at 67.07% from 55 wins and 27 losses
  • Most wins: St Kilda with 108 wins, 4 draws and 75 losses at 58.82%
  • Highest score: Geelong 35.12 (222) defeated Richmond 9.11 (65), 6 May 2007
  • Lowest score: Adelaide 3.6 (24) defeated by St Kilda 19.13 (127), 22 July 2011
  • Highest margin: Geelong (vs Richmond), 157 points, 6 May 2007
  • Highest score in a quarter: Essendon 15.4 (94) vs. Gold Coast 0.1 (1), 1 May 2011

Last updated 3 September 2014.[31]

In popular culture[edit]

The venue appeared in the 2007 film Ghost Rider. Its name, wherever visible, has been digitally changed to the SoBe Dome. It can also be seen in the video for Jessica Mauboy's single Running Back, as well as some high rating television shows, such as the Seven Network's City Homicide and Network Ten's Rush. The stadium was also visible in the background during broadcasts of Seven News Melbourne. It was also visible in broadcasts of Nine News Melbourne for a period up until 2006 when it was replaced with a shot overlooking the city's east.

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.[32]


  1. ^ Linnell, Stephen; Shane Green (31 October 1996). "City to get $200m high-tech stadium". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 1 March 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Wilson, Caroline (1 May 2009). "More stadiums no answer to problems of AFL clubs". The Age (Melbourne). 
  3. ^ Speedway GP Series Returns to Australia in 2015
  4. ^ "Victorian Venues". Australian Football League. Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  5. ^ Main, p. 263.
  6. ^ "Seven sells Telstra Dome stake". News Limited. 21 July 2006. 
  7. ^ "AFL will fight Docklands all the way: Demetriou". 25 June 2009. 
  8. ^ "Docklands". Shawn Dollin, Andrew Ferguson and Bill Bates. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "2006 Commonwealth Games venues – Docklands Stadium". 28 February 2006. Retrieved 11 June 2008. 
  10. ^ "Werribee defeat Queanbeyan by 85 points". 2013-08-19. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  11. ^ " Official Website of Ethiad Stadium". Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "International Naming Rights". SportsBusiness Daily. 19 February 2001. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "ETIHAD: New Naming Rights Partner". 23 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  15. ^ Dunn, Mark (10 June 2009). "Naming lights sponsor at MCG?". Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  16. ^ Ralph, Jon (25 February 2009). "AFL refuses to acknowledge Etihad Stadium". The Courier Mail. Retrieved 25 February 2008. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ McMahon, Steven (30 April 2009). "Melbourne's third major AFL stadium planned for near Docklands". 
  19. ^ "Clubs back boutique stadium". The Daily Telegraph (News Limited). 1 May 2009. 
  20. ^ "Surface Tension ends at Telstra Dome". 24 June 2007. 
  21. ^ "Turf Experiment for Dome". Australian Football Association of North America. 27 August 2006. 
  22. ^ a b Edmund, Sam (15 August 2007). "Turf's up at the Dome". Herald Sun. 
  23. ^ "Dried out grounds bring hard times". The University of Melbourne Voice. 30 April 2007. 
  24. ^ "Etihad Stadium Crowds (Docklands Stadium)". Austadiums. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Official Hyundai A-League". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Daily Telegraph - SoO Game 1, 2012
  27. ^ Holmesby, Luke (5 July 2009). "Saints edge Cats". Australian Football League. Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  28. ^ "Melbourne Storm to face Manly in NRL Grand Final". News Ltd (Herald Sun). 13 September 2007. Retrieved 8 June 2008. 
  29. ^ "Aussies triumph but at a price?". Hogan Stand. 
  30. ^ "Renegades lose in front of record crowd". Melbourne Renegades website. 4 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  31. ^ "AFL Tables - Docklands". AFL Tables. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  32. ^ "Storm brings chaos to Melbourne". 2010-03-07. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 

External links[edit]