Festival Hall (Melbourne)
|The House of Stoush|
|Former names||West Melbourne Stadium
|Location||300 Dudley St, West Melbourne, Victoria, 3003|
|Operator||Arena Management Pty Ltd|
|Construction cost||250,000 pounds|
Festival Hall is a concert and sporting venue located at 300 Dudley Street, West Melbourne, Victoria. 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 (chairman) and Dick Lean (general manager) of Stadiums Limited 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. Professional 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. During the Great Depression, unemployed men seeking work would gather at Festival Hall to be picked for dock work.
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 UK and US, 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 the 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 on Facebook and a Twitter account.
As a concert venue
Australian entrepreneur, Dick Lean Jr. (promoter and CEO of Stadiums Ltd) booked the Beatles to play Australia in 1964. Lean continued to promote and bring to Australia many of the major headline acts during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - who performed in the Stadium's venues in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
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 the show and their show in Sydney sold out in less than three minutes, making this a record for the band.
- "memorable stadiums - Melbourne Stadium later renamed Festival Hall". Australian Boxing News. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "Festival Hall Live Music Venues Dining and Drink". Only Melbourne. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- 1956 Summer Olympics official report. p. 42.