Festival Hall (Melbourne)

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Festival Hall
The House of Stoush
Festival Hall Logo.png
Former names West Melbourne Stadium
Melbourne Stadium
The Stadium
Location 300 Dudley St, West Melbourne, Victoria, 3003
Coordinates 37°48′40″S 144°56′47″E / 37.81111°S 144.94639°E / -37.81111; 144.94639Coordinates: 37°48′40″S 144°56′47″E / 37.81111°S 144.94639°E / -37.81111; 144.94639
Owner Stadiums Pty Ltd
Operator Arena Management Pty Ltd
Capacity Seating: 1,741
Standing: 2,600
Concerts: 5,445
Construction
Opened May 1915
Construction cost 250,000 pounds

Festival Hall is a concert and sporting venue, located at 300 Dudley Street, West Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It is one of Melbourne's larger concert venues and has hosted a variety of local and international acts over many years.

Formerly known as the West Melbourne Stadium (shortened to The Stadium), it was originally built in 1915 by John Wren[1] (Chairman) and Dick Lean (General Manager) of Stadiums Ltd as a multi-function venue for boxing and pro wrestling. It quickly became known to locals as "the House of Stoush", as over the years some of the greatest names in Australian boxing have duked it out, including Lionel Rose, Johnny Famechon, Anthony Mundine, Lester Ellis and Barry Michael. pro Wrestling also featured regularly, as did Roller Derby, ballroom dancing, cultural and religious gatherings, and the first Indoor Tennis Exhibition featuring John McEnroe. It was used by the Painters and Dockers as a meeting place, and during the Great Depression, unemployed men seeking work would gather at Festival Hall to be picked for dock work.

Hollywood Legend, Judy Garland played there for her 1964 tour. After being over an hour late, Garland stormed of the stage and was rushed back to the Southern Cross Hotel. It made headlines worldwide.

'The Stadium' was destroyed by fire in 1955 but was rebuilt in time for the 1956 Olympics, where it was used for boxing, basketball, and gymnastics events.[2][3]

Dick Lean Jnr, (son of the original General Manager,Dick Lean) joined Stadiums in 1960 and set about successful promotion of major music acts of all genres from both the U.K. and U.S.A, increasing the use of the venue significantly. 'The Stadium' was renamed 'Festival Hall' in the early 1960s to reflect its increasing use as Melbourne's largest live entertainment venue at the time.

Since its renovation Festival Hall’s versatile set-up has been used for many events including its weekly conversion into Australia's largest television studio for the production of The Price is Right for Seven Network.

Festival Hall can be used for fully seated events of up to 4,586 including the main floor or for up to 5,445 if the floor is used for standing, sight lines permitting. The addition of floor-to-ceiling curtains around the main floor and between the side sections allows seating for up to 1,741 people or 2,600 standing on the main floor in intimate surrounds with the use of the balcony area opposite the stage above the main floor entrance providing an additional 272 seats. The main floor has an area of 1,288 m², providing ample room for comfortable dining for up to 1,000 seated guests plus dance floor, and the stage offers a further 160 m² of elevated space. Festival Hall has been used for black tie dinners, product launches, conferences, motivation sessions, art exhibitions, large Christmas parties, religious and cultural events, and even as an examination venue for Swinburne University. Festival Hall has a strong presence on the web with a fan group at Facebook and even a Twitter account.

As a concert venue[edit]

Festival Hall was known as the original House of Rock and Roll and is famous for its electric atmosphere. It took off as a live music venue when Australia's famous entrepreneur, Dick Lean Jr. (Promoter & CEO of Stadiums Ltd), booked the Beatles to play Australia in 1964. Dick Lean continued to promote and bring to Australia all of the major 'Headline Acts' during 60's, 70's and 80's - which performed in the Stadiums venues in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.[4] These days, the iconic venue is affectionately known as "Festering Hall" and has had somewhat of a resurgence as the 'real home of rock and roll' in Australia.

On 20 May 1964 Judy Garland performed at Festival Hall during her Australian Tour and was unable to finish the performance.

The Living End's Live at Festival Hall was filmed there on 19 May 2006.

On 30 January 2008, Rage Against the Machine performed at the venue, in what was only their second headline show outside the United States since their breakup in September 2000. Tickets to this show and their show in Sydney sold out in less than three minutes, making this a record for the band.

Over the years the following bands have also performed at this venue (* denotes upcoming performance):

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]