Docklands Stadium

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Docklands Stadium
Marvel Stadium
Marvel Stadium official logo.png
Marvel Stadium from an aerial perspective. Feb 2019.jpg
Former namesColonial Stadium (2000–2002)
Telstra Dome (2002–2009)
Etihad Stadium (2009–2018)
LocationHarbour Esplanade, Docklands, Melbourne, Australia
Coordinates37°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
OwnerAustralian Football League
OperatorAustralian Football League (2020-present)
Melbourne Stadiums Limited (2000-2020)
Capacity56,347 (venue capacity)
53,359 (seating capacity)
47,000 (cricket[1][2] and rectangular mode)[3]
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke groundOctober 1997
Opened9 March 2000
Construction costA$460 million
ArchitectPopulous in association with Daryl Jackson
General contractorBaulderstone Hornibrook
Tenants
Australian Football League

Essendon Football Club (2000–present)
St Kilda Football Club (2000–present)
Western Bulldogs (2000–present)
North Melbourne Football Club (2000–present)
Carlton Football Club (2005–present)

Cricket

Melbourne Renegades (BBL; 2011–present)
Melbourne Renegades (WBBL; 2015–present)

Other
Melbourne Storm (NRL; 2001, 2010)
Melbourne Victory FC (A-League; 2006–present)
Website
marvelstadium.com.au
Ground information
End names
Lockett End
Coventry End
International information
First ODI16 August 2000:
 Australia v  South Africa
Last ODI3 February 2006:
 Australia v  South Africa
As of 22 August 2015
Source: ESPNcricinfo

Docklands Stadium, also known by naming rights sponsorship as Marvel Stadium, is a multi-purpose sports and entertainment stadium in the Docklands area of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Construction started in October 1997, and was completed in 2000 at a cost of A$460 million. The stadium features a retractable roof, and the ground level seating can be converted from oval to rectangular configuration.

The stadium is primarily used for Australian rules football, and was originally built as a replacement for Waverley Park. Offices at the precinct serve as the headquarters of the Australian Football League (AFL) which, since 7 October 2016, has had exclusive ownership of the venue.[4] With a capacity for 56,000 spectators for sports, the stadium is the second-largest in Melbourne, and hosts a number of other sporting events, including domestic Twenty20 cricket matches, Melbourne Victory soccer home matches, rugby league and rugby union matches, as well as special events and concerts. Seven Network's digital broadcast centre is also headquartered at the precinct.

History[edit]

Construction[edit]

Docklands Stadium under construction in December 1998

The stadium was announced on 31 October 1996 as a more centrally located replacement for the much larger but ageing Waverley Park as a headquarters for the Australian Football League.[5] It was built in the Melbourne Docklands to the immediate west of the CBD, a central but largely deserted industrial area which had just commenced its own urban renewal project. Construction of the stadium by Baulderstone Hornibrook commenced in October 1997 under the working name "Victoria Stadium",[6] and was completed ahead of the 2000 AFL season. The stadium was 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.[7]

The 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 then later developed for football. It was the first Australian rules football stadium built with a retractable roof, which throughout its history has usually been closed for night matches and for wet weather day matches, and sometimes also for dry weather day matches. It was also the first stadium in Australia to have movable seating, as all four level-one tiers of the stadium can be moved up to 18 metres forward into a rectangular configuration; despite this being a key feature of the stadium design, it has rarely been used, due to damage to turf, time to deploy the seats, and a reduced capacity since the corner bays of the stadium become unavailable in rectangular configuration.

Development[edit]

Construction was finished only weeks before the first match, and some scheduled pre-season matches were relocated as a result.[8] The first match to be played at the ground was between Essendon and Port Adelaide, before a crowd of 43,012, on 9 March 2000. Essendon won the match by 94 points, and Michael Long kicked the first goal at the ground.[9] The game was to have been played under the closed roof, but due to technical issues it remained open. Six days later, Barbra Streisand staged venue's first concert.[10] The stadium's third football game, between Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions on 19 March, was the first to be played under the roof.[8] On 16 August 2000, the world's first indoor One Day International was held at the venue between Australia and South Africa. The first game played in the rectangular configuration was a Melbourne Storm game in July 2001.

Interior of Docklands Stadium with the roof closed in 2005

From the beginning, the stadium's playing surface was criticised for its slipperiness, hardness and lack of grass coverage, and the increased risk of injury that this causes to players.[11] Maintaining surface quality remains one of the stadium's biggest challenges.[12] The stadium's orientation and highly built up grandstands mean that the Northern end of the stadium in particular receives 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 more quickly.[13] The entire surface undergoes regular, expensive replacement during the season with turf grown externally, under contract by HG Turf, whereas the responsibility of laying and managing the turf lies with Docklands Stadium management.[14] Since 2007, elaborate heating and lighting to better allow grass to be grown and managed within the stadium have been in use.[13]

The venue was damaged by a thunderstorm on the afternoon of 6 March 2010 during the 2010 Victorian storms. The external roof at Gate 2 caved in, causing damage and flooding inside the entertainment area. That evening's preseason match between St Kilda and Fremantle was delayed due to WorkSafe inspections, but still went ahead before a small crowd of 5000.[15]

Marvel Stadium pictured from above (February 2019)

In 2015, LED electronic advertising was added around the perimeter of the ground on level 1 and 2, as well as a strip synthetic turf around the edge of the fence, outside the boundary line. The synthetic strip was narrowed after Brisbane Lions player Michael Close suffered a season ending ACL injury on the uneven surface during a game in 2015.[16][17]

The stadium became unpopular with many of its tenant clubs, especially St Kilda, North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs, as high operating costs and the high proportion of gate revenues which were paid back to the stadium meant that clubs earned much lower returns for a game at Docklands than they would have earned from the same attendance at the Melbourne Cricket Ground; and usually had to draw at least 20,000 spectators to break even on a game.[18] Those three clubs all received compensation payments from the AFL to balance the weak deals,[19] and sold occasional home matches to small interstate or international venues for greater financial returns than they could earn at Docklands.[20]

Ownership[edit]

Under the terms of the agreement governing construction and operation of the venue, in 2025 the AFL was to win ownership of the stadium for a nominal $30 fee;[21] but the AFL Commission opted to purchase exclusive ownership of the stadium earlier than this, in October 2016, for approximately $200 million.[4] This purchase left the stadium's tenant AFL clubs millions of dollars better off, as they and the AFL arranged more favourable tenancy agreements.[20] The stadium was eventually integrated into the AFL structure several years later, ending the independent management of the venue by Melbourne Stadiums Limited.[22]

The purchase also soon proved critically important to the AFL's finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was able to leverage its ownership of the stadium in obtaining a $500–600 million line of credit to cover cash flow shortages when the 2020 AFL season was suspended.[23]

Future refurbishment[edit]

In April 2018 the AFL and Victorian Government announced that the stadium and broader precinct would undergo a $225 million redevelopment in the coming years.[24] Though the seating capacity of the stadium is expected to remain unchanged, the redevelopment is expected to upgrade stadium infrastructure, connect the precinct to the Melbourne CBD and open up access to the Docklands waterfront.[24] As of August 2020 the AFL was still consulting on the scope of the project, though had confirmed it will proceed irrespective of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.[22]

Naming rights history[edit]

Docklands Stadium being renamed from Etihad Stadium to Marvel Stadium

The stadium has never operated under the name 'Docklands Stadium', having been covered by naming rights deals throughout its entire operating history. When it opened, the Colonial State Bank paid $32.5 million for 10 years of naming rights, and the stadium opened as Colonial Stadium;[25] the same year, Commonwealth Bank took over the Colonial State Bank and began to discontinue the brand; Commonwealth then sold the balance of the naming rights contract to Telstra for about $50 million, and the stadium's name was changed to Telstra Dome on 1 October 2002. During this time it was colloquially referred to as "The Dome" – a colloquialism used actively by clubs which were sponsored by rival telecommunications companies (such as Essendon with 3 and Carlton with Optus).

On 1 March 2009, the naming rights transferred to Etihad Airways,[26] and the venue became known as Etihad Stadium under a five-year deal, which was later extended to ten years, at a cost estimated at between $5–$8 million per year.[27][28] This once again caused problems as the AFL would not initially recognise the new name due to its deal with rival airline Qantas;[29] the league recognised the new name only after further negotiation between the two parties.

In September 2018, the stadium was renamed Marvel Stadium, after the stadium operators negotiated an eight-year 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.[30]

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.[31]
  • 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 named after the two leading goalkickers in VFL/AFL history: the northern end is the Lockett End, after Tony Lockett; and the southern end is the Coventry End after Gordon Coventry. Some clubs informally use alternative names during their home games in place of those to honour their own histories.[32]

Docklands Stadium in rectangular configuration during an A-League Melbourne Derby in February 2015

Home teams[edit]

As of 2020, five AFL teams have deals in place to play home games at Docklands Stadium:[33]

  • St Kilda - nine home games per year. The club has played almost all home games at the venue since it opened in 2000.[8]
  • Western Bulldogs - nine home games per year. The club has played almost all home games at the venue since it opened in 2000.[8]
  • North Melbourne - eight home games per year. The venue has been the club's primary home ground since 2005, but it had previously played about five games per year from 2000 to 2004.
  • Essendon – seven home games per year. The club has a 25-year deal, which has been in place since the stadium opened in 2000.[8]
  • Carlton – five home games per year. This deal has been in place since 2015, and the club played six home games per year under a previous ten-year deal from 2005 to 2014.[34]

All Victorian-based AFL teams, including those not listed here, have played some home games at the ground during its history, owing to a contractual requirement between the AFL and the stadium's original owners to stage at least 46 AFL matches per year until 2013, and 40 matches per year thereafter. Geelong and Collingwood both had deals to play around four home matches per year during the 2000s;[8] and most other clubs still play one or two home matches there per year to make up the numbers.

The venue's major summer tenant is Big Bash League side Melbourne Renegades, which has played its home games at the Docklands Stadium since the league's inception in 2011/12. A drop-in pitch is used to facilitate cricket at the venue. At the end of the 2016/17 Big Bash, the stadium was rated the most entertaining venue for T20 cricket in Australia.[35]

A-League team Melbourne Victory also plays home matches at Docklands. Originally, the plan was that the stadium would only be used for games against its biggest rivals, Sydney FC, in the 2006/07 A-League; but after the success of that game, the club shifted permanently from Olympic Park Stadium to Docklands from the 2006/07 season until the 2009/10 season. This gave the stadium its first major summer tenant. Since the opening of the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in 2010, the club now plays only high-drawing games and finals at Docklands, with all other games being played at the new stadium.

In the 2001 National Rugby League season, the stadium was the permanent home ground for the Melbourne Storm, but this deal lasted only one year. The club occasionally hosted high-drawing home games and finals at Docklands after that. Docklands has also hosted interstate and international rugby league games, including State of Origin games in 2006, 2009 and 2012 State of Origin series. The 2012 match attracted 56,021, a new record for rugby league at the stadium.[36]

The stadium has been converted to host several other sporting events. In its early years, the stadium was used for off-season one day matches, but has also held some summer matches, particularly in 2006 when the Melbourne Cricket Ground was unavailable due to the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The venue has also hosted international rugby union – including being Melbourne's venue during the 2003 Rugby World Cup – although the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium now hosts most such games. The venue has hosted international basketball,[37] Rugby 7s at the 2006 Commonwealth Games,[31] a 2002 non-televised WWE[38][39] live event[40][41] as part of the WWE Global Warning Tour: Melbourne, the 2015 UFC 193[42] in front of a then-record UFC attendance of 56,214 fans,[43] a motorcycle speedway event (when it played host to the 2015 Speedway Grand Prix of Australia on a 346 metres (378 yards) long temporary track), and a controversial international darts event in 2015 in which spectators seated on the arena started throwing chairs and furniture.[44]

Records[edit]

Attendance[edit]

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
Sport Date Crowd Event
Rugby Union 29 June 2013 56,771 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia: Australia vs British and Irish Lions
One Day International 38,364 Commonwealth Bank Series
Big Bash League 12 January 2018 44,316 2017–18 Big Bash League Round 7: Melbourne Renegades vs Melbourne Stars
A-League 18 February 2007 55,436 2007 A-League Grand Final: Melbourne Victory vs Adelaide United
International soccer 11 October 2016 48,460 2018 World Cup Qualification Third Round: Australia vs Japan
State of Origin 23 May 2012 56,021 2012 State of Origin Game I: Queensland vs New South Wales
NRL 23 September 2007 33,427 2007 NRL Preliminary Final: Melbourne Storm vs Parramatta Eels
AFL 5 July 2009 54,444 2009 AFL Round 14: St Kilda vs Geelong
International Rules 28 October 2005 45,428 2005 International Rules Series 2nd Test: Australia vs Ireland
Motorsport 24 October 2015 26,609 Speedway Grand Prix Round 12 2015: Speedway Grand Prix of Australia

AFL records[edit]

Players[edit]

Teams[edit]

  • Highest winning percentage: Geelong at 66.84% from 65 wins, 32 losses and one draw
  • Lowest winning percentage: Gold Coast at 22.73% from 5 wins, 17 losses
  • Most wins: St Kilda with 138 wins, 6 draws and 107 losses at 56.18%
  • 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 14 October 2019.[45]

International cricket[edit]

The following table summarises the ODI centuries scored at Docklands.

No. Score Player Team Balls Inns. Opposing team Date Result
1 106 Michael Bevan  Australia 125 1  South Africa 16 August 2000 Won
2 114* Steve Waugh  Australia 103 1  South Africa 16 August 2000 Won
3 103 Adam Gilchrist  Australia 79 1 ICC World XI 7 October 2005 Won

Concerts[edit]

Date Performer(s) Attendance Notes
15 & 17 March 2000 Barbra Streisand 70,000 Part of the Timeless Tour
1 December 2002 Red Hot Chili Peppers 21,729 Part of the By The Way Tour
28 February 2003 KISS 33,000 Recording of Kiss Symphony: Alive IV
20 March 2003 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Part of The Rising Tour
10 December 2003 Robbie Williams 57,027 Part of The 2003 Tour
17 December 2005 Green Day 8,439 Part of the American Idiot World Tour
18–19 November 2006 U2 127,275 Part of the Vertigo Tour
17–18 December 2006 Robbie Williams 125,274 Part of the Close Encounters Tour
13–15 November 2008 André Rieu 38,605 Part of the 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 U2 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 the 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 Tour
18 & 19 September 2014 Justin Timberlake 41,777 Part of The 20/20 Experience World Tour
14–15 February 2015 One Direction 59,253 Part of On the Road Again Tour
28 February 2015 Foo Fighters 56,981 Part of the Sonic Highways World Tour
6 & 8 December 2015 AC/DC 100,000 / 100,000 Part of the Rock or Bust World Tour
12-14 February 2016 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 152,673 Five performances
9 & 10 December 2016 Coldplay 109,492 Part of the A Head Full of Dreams Tour
10 March 2017 Justin Bieber 54,821 Part of the Purpose World Tour
18 & 19 March 2017 Adele 152,300 Part of the Adele Live 2017 Tour
30 January 2018 Foo Fighters Part of the Concrete and Gold Tour
9, 10, 11 & 12 March 2018 Ed Sheeran 256,622 Part of the ÷ Tour
26 October 2018 Taylor Swift 63,027 Part of Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour
15 November 2019 U2 59,726 Part of The Joshua Tree Tour 2019

Transport access[edit]

Docklands Stadium is serviced primarily by trains at Southern Cross Station, which is located on the City Loop and is serviced by all major metropolitan and country train and coach lines. The stadium is located on a public pedestrian concourse adjoining the northern end of the station.

The stadium is also serviced by several tram routes:

In popular culture[edit]

The venue appeared in the 2007 film Ghost Rider. Its name, wherever visible, was 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 television shows, such as the Seven Network's City Homicide and Network Ten's Rush.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]