Also commonly known as “the G”, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is one the largest stadiums in the world, and one of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks. The treasured ground which gave birth to AFL football and Test Match Cricket is today home to some of Melbourne’s biggest sporting and entertainment events. As we discussed in Why we love Melbourne, sporting has played a huge role in shaping the culture of the city, and it all revolves the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Since we believe a visit to the ground is essential for any Melbourne tourist, we thought we’d give you some reasons to go and visit!
Its Huge Size
The MCG is the 10th largest stadium in the world. Today is has a capacity of 100,024, however this number was far greater in past decades. Before the 1970’s, as many as 130,000 people could cram into standing space at the ‘G, but restrictions were soon imposed. Today over 3 million people pass through its gates each year.
There is nothing more exciting than stepping up into the grandstands and looking out at the great Colosseum-like open space. Unlike soccer and rugby stadiums, the MCG’s ground is a much larger oval shape, so to the eye it looks much bigger. Close your eyes and you’ll be able to hear the roaring crowd, the screech of a whistle, and the man in shorts and singlet running with the oval shaped red ball.
The biggest sporting event of the year is the AFL Grand Final – held in the first week of October every year. Last year it drew a full house – 100,000 die-hard fans to watch the Hawthorn Hawks beat the West Coast Eagles.
The National Sports Museum
Located within the Melbourne Cricket Ground is the Australian National Sports Museum. This little attraction is a treasure for tourists – particularly visitors from England, India or Pakistan who share a love for cricket. Exhibited here are artifacts from the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, rugby, football, cricket, and horse racing.
If you visit the MCG, you can go to the National Sports Museum as part of an MCG tour package. We think that’s the best way to do it! Visit the museum, then see the ground. Tickets can be purchased at the Official Website.
Its Rich and Groundbreaking History
The MCG has a very rich history that dates back almost 200 years. The colony of Victoria – part of the British Empire – were just crazy about cricket. The Melbourne Cricket Club was formed in 1838, and claimed the ground in the 1850’s. From then on, the ground would play host to visiting English cricket teams, with the first test match being played between Australia and England in 1877. Meanwhile, something else was going on. Cricketers needed a winter sport to keep fit during the off season, and many were experimenting with new balls and rules. In 1958, the first ever Australian football match was held between students from Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar school. While the match wasn’t played at the ground, it paved the way for a nationwide sport to grow and dominate Australia’s winter entertainment scene.
During World War II, the ‘G was used to station US and Australian soldiers. It was used by the government as a base of operation in Melbourne, and as many as 200,000 troops occupied the ground.
Today the MCG continues to create history, with its monumental events and continued expansions.
The best way to see the Melbourne Cricket Ground is to attend a sports game or event! In Winter, AFL games mostly run on Friday nights, Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons. In Summer, international and domestic cricket tests and one-day series’ operate all throughout the season. You’re bound to be able to see something exciting at the G!
There’s also various other events, such as the upcoming Sleep at the ‘G evening. This year it is hosted on May 26th, and is a chance for participants to raise money for homelessness by sleeping at the MCG. Go to http://www.mcg.org.au/ for information on the events you can attend. You’re in for a spectacular experience!
Take a guided tour
The MCG offers guided tours, and they’re awesome! Seriously, if you go on a day with good weather, you will be blown away. Tours are operated by guides who have the ‘G close to their hearts – and their knowledge base on Melbourne sporting culture is phenomenal. They will take you onto the treasured ground, behind the scenes, and into the clubrooms and player-only areas of the venue. We highly recommend this!
Tours operate regularly throughout the day, and go for approximately 75 minutes. You can find more information on the MCG’s Tours webpage.
Something Extra – Check out the Melbourne Cricket Club
The MCG is operated by the Melbourne Cricket Club. The Melbourne Cricket Club is one of Melbourne’s most exclusive clubs, and those who sign up today are likely to wait approximately 40 years on the waiting list before becoming a member. The MCC has its own stand at the MCG, where members can attend and dine for a cheaper ticket price, though strict dress codes mean that you need to dress up! Since Emily was placed on the waiting list from birth, she was lucky enough to receive her membership at age 16.
If you happen to know a current member, make sure you attend a game with them!
If you’re in Melbourne, make sure you pay a visit to our beloved MCG. Hope your team wins!