Australia’s bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup is gathering momentum, the bid is capturing enormous media attention with one of the key issues being stadia that will be included in the FFA’s ‘bid book’, to be completed next month.
I wanted to have a look at one stadium, sure to be included in the book, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The MCG is an icon of Australian sport and, while probably no longer the favourite, is a chance of hosting the World Cup final. Many stadia will be upgraded, rebuilt for the tournament (should Australia win the hosting rights), but little has been said about what may be done to the MCG. Half the ground is fairly new, being rebuilt for the 2006 Commonwealth games, however the Great Southern Stand is now close to 20 years old, and could use replacing. Extending the new stand right around the ground would turn the MCG into a modern world class venue. Some would criticize the current look of the ground, with an old stand on one side and a new stand on the other making the ground look a bit ‘patchy’, quite different from some of the World’s best modern stadiums, which were built together, rather than in several stages. This would of course bring enormous benefits for AFL and Cricket fans, whom most frequently visit the stadium, as well as fans who attend World Cup games at the venue.
A large discussion point, surrounding the MCG and the World Cup bid, is it’s suitability to football. I would also like to see this addressed. Installing retractable seating would immensely improve the viewing experience for fans at the World Cup, and would create a football legacy of sorts, with the possibility of using the retractable seating for Socceroos games and other football matches in the future. Some have suggested a temporary conversion of the MCG to a rectangle for the tournament, I would favour this option which also has long term benefits.
So, my plan:
- Upgrade Stands: Extend the modern stands on the North of the ground right around the stadium, at the same time, make the ground slightly smaller, bringing in the Southern boundary line. The ground would now be more oval and less circular:
- Retractable Seating: This plan borrows from the proposed “Stadium WA”, which was to be a new stadium for Perth, but has not yet become reality. The stadium was to have a modern kind of retractable seating, where stands would pivot around fixed hinges – see this link for more info: http://www.dsr.wa.gov.au/assets/files/Major%20Stadium/The%20Stadium%20and%20the%20City%20Vol%201%20The%20Stadium.pdf
My diagram is fairly rough, but you get the idea. The lower tier of the MCG would need to be completely rebuilt, with the lower tier divided into 12 sections (8 which would be used for the rectangular seating). This system could see the MCG transformed into a world class rectangular stadium using only retractable seating:
The large capacity of the MCG (100,000) ensures it will be part of Australia’s bid. I believe work should be carried out regardless, as a stadium of this quality would help ensure a successful tournament and would provide a great legacy for Melbourne.