AFL hails Victoria Govt decision on fans


AFL season opener at MCG with fans Image: Marvel Stadium

The Australian Football League (AFL) has welcomed the Victorian State Government’s decision to endorse 50 percent capacity crowds at the 100,024-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the 53,359-capacity Marvel Stadium for AFL matches to begin the season – the largest crowd capacity allowances at a sporting event in the State since COVID-19 threw life out of gear the world over in March 2020.

A statement on the AFL website stated that from March 18th, 2021, the MCG can host up to 50,000 patrons (50 percent capacity).

The above date is the opening night of the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season as reigning premiers Richmond Football Club host Carlton Football Club in the traditional opening round blockbuster at 7:25 pm AEDT.

A statement on the AFL website added that from March 4th, 2021, Marvel Stadium can host up to 28,961 patrons (50 percent capacity).

Three Community Series pre-season games will also allow fans to attend games from March 4th, 2021.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground, also known locally as ‘The G’, is an Australian sports stadium located in Yarra Park, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia).

Docklands Stadium, also known by naming rights sponsorship as Marvel Stadium, is a multipurpose sports and entertainment stadium in the Docklands area of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Construction started in October 1997 and was completed in the year 2000 at a cost of A$460 million.

AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan welcomed the above announcement and said it was great news for clubs and fans on the eve of the season.

Stated McLachlan, “On behalf of the AFL I would like to thank the Victorian State Government, specifically Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula and Minister for Health Martin Foley for working with us in allowing fans to get back to footy.”

“Footy fans in Victoria have been excited about getting back to matches and we have seen that with great numbers across the opening rounds of the Australian Football League Women (AFLW) season. We haven’t had footy crowds this big in Victoria since the match to support Bushfire Relief in February last year, so this announcement provides a big boost for our players and fans in the lead-up to the season,” the AFL top shot added.

“Our team has been working extensively behind the scenes planning for multiple scenarios and all our venues will be ready to welcome fans back into the stands from this month,” McLachlan shared.

Premier Andrews said fans being allowed in stadia were an important step towards normality – “This is great news as the AFL season is obviously starting quite soon and it will be something approaching normal, which is something Victorians have absolutely earned.”

How much crowd will be let into the 36,000-capacity GMHBA Stadium in South Geelong, Australia, and the 11,000-capacity Mars Stadium in Wendouree, Australia, are currently being worked through with an announcement to be made in this regard shortly.

Ticketing details will be released in coming days, with club members to be accorded top priority.

Home clubs will have three priority groups that will receive priority on-sales and it is up to each club how they segment their membership categories into those three groups (including reserved seat members and general admission members).

To assist with contact tracing and appropriate social distancing members will be required to redeem a digital ticket via the ticket agents at no cost.

Away club members will also receive priority access following home club members and should capacity still remain a general public on-sale will be conducted.

‘The Guardian’ stated that it will be the biggest crowd at an event in Victoria since 86,174 people watched the women’s Twenty20 World Cup final at the MCG in March 2019, only days before coronavirus struck the world.

Richmond Football Club Chief Executive Brendon Gale said he considered the crowd big enough to unveil the 2019 and 2020 flags – “We’ll be pressing ahead with our plans – we wouldn’t have done it with say 10,000 fans there.”

‘The Guardian’ added that Victoria will return to its COVID summer settings after battling its recent coronavirus break which forced the State into a five-day lockdown midway through the Australian Open.

Melbourne Cricket Club Chief Executive Stuart Fox said he was pleased the MCG could cater to extra fans after only 25,000 were allowed in each day during December’s Boxing Day Test between Australia and India – “It’s just pleasing fans are going to be back and we’re going to have a roar at the ‘G’ for the first time in a long time.”

The Boxing Day Test match is a cricket Test match held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia involving the Australian cricket team and an opposing national team that is touring Australia during the southern summer. It begins annually on Boxing Day and is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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