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Docklands Stadium, currently also known by its sponsored name of Etihad Stadium, is a multi-purpose sports and entertainment stadium in the Docklandsmarker precinct of Melbournemarker, Victoriamarker, Australia. Construction started in October 1997 and was completed in 2000 at a cost of $460 million.

Originally built as a replacement for Waverley Parkmarker the stadium is primarily used for Australian Rules Football and is the headquarters of the Australian Football League who, as part of the construction deal, assume ownership of the ground in 2020. Also headquartered at the stadium is Seven Network's digital broadcast centremarker.

The stadium has been host to other sporting events, including regular football matches (as home to the Melbourne Victory) as well as one-off matches for sports including cricket, rugby league and rugby union as well as several specialised events and concerts.

The stadium has been controversial since its first construction and there has been a significant amount of criticism directed toward the facility, particularly from its major tenant, the AFL. The AFL have increasingly regarded the stadium owner as a hostile landlord, engaging numerous litigations against the current owners and threatened to build a rival stadium as close as a kilometre away in the short-term.

History

Constructed at a cost of approximately $450 million between October 1997 and early 2000, the stadium was developed as a replacement for Waverley Parkmarker. The opening match was played between Essendon and Port Adelaide before a crowd of 43,012. Essendon ended up victorious by 94 points, with full-foward Matthew Lloyd kicking seven goals. Originally developed by Docklands Stadium Consortium and thereafter controlled by Seven Network the remaining leasehold interest in the stadium, on 21 June 2006, was sold to James Fielding Funds Management for AU$330 million. In 2025 the AFL is expected to take over the ownership.

Like Waverley it was built for Australian Rules Football, unlike most grounds of a similar size in Australia which were originally designed for cricket.

One-off events

Events that have been held at Docklands include concerts by (AC/DC, Robbie Williams, Kiss, Bon Jovi, Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, Green Day, U2 and Pearl Jam).

The ground hosted two quarter finals of the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the Rugby 7s at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The stadium was also used in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup for the Australia vs England game and is expected to be included in an Australian bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In the summer months it is used as the home ground for Melbourne Victory games in the A-League and the AFC Champions League.

The stadium is used for Rugby League State of Origin matches when they are played in Melbourne.

The stadium has also hosted a match from the International Rules Series in 2005. Since 2003, it has been the venue for the E. J. Whitten Legends Game.

KISS had played at the stadium on February 28, 2003 with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for their live CD and DVD Kiss Symphony: Alive IV.

Home Teams

Docklands Stadium is officially home ground to five AFL teams. Western Bulldogs, Carlton Blues, Essendon Bombers, St Kilda Saints and North Melbourne Kangaroos use the stadium as their primary home ground. The Collingwood Magpies and Richmond Tigers, also play home games there, but their official home ground is the Melbourne Cricket Groundmarker. The Geelong Cats also use it for some home games, but their official home ground is Skilled Stadiummarker in Geelongmarker.The AFL highest home and away attendance recorded at the Docklands Stadium was set the 5th of July, 2009 when 54,444 people came to see Geelong and St. Kilda play.

Melbourne Victory also call Docklands Stadium home. Playing all home games, except 3, since 2006. Melbourne Victory will continue to play all games at Docklands until the new Melbourne Rectangular Stadiummarker is completed. Then the Victory will play blockbuster and finals games at Docklands, with all other games being played at the rectangular stadium.Melbourne Victory also set the second largest attendance record at Docklands Stadium, 55,436, set against Adelaide United for the A-League grand final in 2007.

In the 2001 NRL season it was the home ground for the Melbourne Storm. The stadium is also used as the Storm's home finals venue due to the low capacity of it normal home ground, Olympic Park Stadiummarker.

Naming rights history

The stadium was constructed by Baulderstone Hornibrook and opened on 9 March 2000, as Colonial Stadium. Colonial State Bank paid $32.5 million for 10 years of naming rights. [59918] In 2000, Commonwealth Bank took over Colonial State Bank and sold the naming rights to Telstra for about $50 million. The name was changed to Telstra Dome on 1 October 2002. During this time it was colloquially referred to as simply "The Dome", including by clubs who are sponsored by rival telecommunications companies. On 1 March 2009 the name was changed to Etihad Stadium, for an expected period of five years, when the naming rights transferred to Etihad Airways. Etihad Airways are paying an estimated $5–$8 million a year for naming rights at the Docklands stadium. Controversy surrounds the new name, with the AFL refusing to recognise it. AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan confirmed the AFL would not recognise the new name due to a lucrative sponsorship deal between the AFL and Australia's National Airline Qantas.

Stadium features

A section of the movable seating.
  • Retractable roof above the playing surface, opens east-west, and takes eight minutes to fully open or close.
  • Movable seating
  • 'Colosseum' arena structure
  • Two large internal replay screens which display scores and advertisements.
  • External super screen
  • 1,000 video seats
  • 13 function rooms
  • 66 corporate boxes
  • Premium Club membership area, The Medallion Club
  • 2,500 car parking spaces below the ground
  • Oval shaped, turf playing surface of or
  • 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
  • The ends of the ground, where the AFL goal posts are located, are named after VFL/AFL goal-kicking legends Tony 'Plugger' Lockett and Gordon Coventry. The northern end is the Lockett End, and the southern end, the Coventry End.


Criticism

Several issues with Docklands Stadium that have caused growing resentment with the AFL and prompted the league to publicly investigate an alternative third venue. At times this venue has been suggested as a redeveloped Princes Park Football Groundmarker or a rival stadium in the Docklands area.

Playing surface issues

A panoramic view of the interior of Docklands Stadium with the roof closed.
Taken during a Collingwood vs Port Adelaide AFL Match.
1st July 2005


Since its inception, Docklands Stadium has endured criticism over the quality and suitability of its playing surface, in particular for AFL requirements. It has been criticised by players and coaches for its slipperiness, hardness and lack of grass coverage. The turf has required regular expensive replacement since its inception due to a lack of sunlight inside the stadium. The turf itself is supplied under contract by HG Turf, whereas the responsibility of laying and managing the turf lies with Docklands Stadium management.

Issues with the ground's ability to grow grass all year round can be attributed to the stadium's irregular North-South orientation which was a requirement due to its placement between the surrounding roads and Docklands body of water. In particular, the Northern end of the stadium 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 faster in that section of the ground.

In August 2007, Docklands Stadium chief executive Ian Collins confirmed talks were underway to purchase an elaborate lighting and heating system to allow grass to be grown by curators all year round. This followed extensive visits by Docklands Stadium officials to several FIFA World Cup venues in Germanymarker, locations in the United Statesmarker and Arsenal's new Emirates Stadiummarker.

Studies have also been conducted due to concerns that hard surfaces like Docklands Stadium increase the likelihood of player injury, in particular in contributing to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries (knee).

Spectators

Despite being a purpose built Australian rules venue, it rarely reaches a full capacity for AFL matches due to the positioning of the coaching boxes and LCD screens. From some areas high in the stands and even standing areas, viewing of the full oval is obscured. This, however does not affect sports which use a smaller rectangular section of the ground.

Additionally, spectators have objected to high food costs at the venue.

Attendance records

2006-07 A-League Grand Final at Docklands Stadium


In Popular Culture

The venue appeared in the 2007 film "Ghost Rider". Its name, wherever visible, has been digitally changed to the SoBe Dome. It is also visible in the video for Jessica Mauboy's single Running Back, as well as some high rating television shows, such as the Seven Network's City Homicide and Network Ten's Rush.

External links



Notes

  1. http://www.theage.com.au/news/rfnews/more-stadiums-debate-a-distraction/2009/04/30/1240982346033.html
  2. ibid
  3. Main, p. 263.
  4. Australia's Telstra Dome Rights For Sale | Sports & Recreation > Sports & Recreation Facilities & Venues
  5. Etihad Stadium Sets AFL Crowd Record
  6. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25406445-661,00.html
  7. http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25411495-5016140,00.html
  8. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21536146-5000117,00.html
  9. [1]
  10. [2]
  11. Australian Stadiums :: Telstra Dome Crowds


References




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