Marvel Stadium revamp plans set to ‘marvel’


AFL Marvel Stadium revamp update Nov 2020 Image: AFL

The Australian State of Victoria may never have had it as good as now. With funds garnered recently for upgrade of Geelong’s West Oval Stadium to a regional fixture to Victoria’s South West, it’s now the turn for a massive makeover of State capital Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium (Australia) and its surrounding concourse.

The plans to transform Marvel Stadium and its neighborhood into a 365 days in a year world-class global sports and entertainment destination was revealed recently by the Australian Football League (AFL) and the Victorian State Government.

The Australian Football League is the pre-eminent and only fully professional men’s competition of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport’s governing body, and is responsible for controlling the laws of the game.

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.

The 53,359-capacity Marvel Stadium, which is owned by the Aussie rules league, will be opened up to the City of Melbourne under the plans, which seek to ensure it becomes a seven-day-a-week community meeting place with a ‘Town Square’ and new cafes, bars and restaurants.

The Victorian Government having pumped in A$225m (£123.7m/€138.3m/$164.1m) to finance the project as part of a landmark agreement with the AFL and the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) back in 2018, secured the State as the home of football with Marvel Stadium acting as the headquarters of the AFL and home to Essendon, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Carlton football team games.

AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan stated, “The Marvel Stadium precinct will be one of the best sports and entertainment destinations in the world, with its proximity to the City and a world class entertainment and food offering pre- and post-event.”

“The designers have captured our desire to amplify the stadium’s ability to host multiple events across a calendar year and ensure fan experience has been front of mind when designing the upgrade. By renovating the existing structure, it will provide a more environmentally sustainable way of building, as well as ensuring minimal disruption to fans. On behalf of the AFL, I want to thank the Victorian Government for their continued partnership across both elite and community football.”

The Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula, helped unveil the initial designs from renowned architects Grimshaw with Smartform, and announced that the project will shortly go out to tender to effect sea change in Marvel Stadium.

Pakula informed that work on the development is expected to commence in mid-2021 and will be over by 2023.

The 20-year-old Marvel Stadium, owned by the Australian Football League, had prior to the pandemic hosted more than 75 sports and entertainment events annually from the AFL Premiership season, Big Bash Twenty20 cricket league to concerts of major performers like Taylor Swift (American singer), rock band U2 and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.

The Victorian Government committing the funds back in April 2018 also ensured that the AFL Grand Final be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) until at least 2057 (now 2058, after this year’s Grand Final was played in Brisbane due to COVID-19).

In the works

  • A restructuring of the eastern and southern sides of the stadium’s exterior, with the venue to be opened up to Melbourne’s bustling CBD or City center;
  • The sitting bowl area will remain undisturbed but new and upgraded internal spaces will be created for bars and restaurants, with some internal walls to be removed to open them up to the field of play. More spaces will also be provided for fans to catch up with friends pre-, during and post-match;
  • A signature new ‘Town Square Plaza’ will be developed as an extension to the stadium near the Bourke St footbridge on the Southern side, with a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces that will be capable of hosting community gatherings and markets as well as hospitality businesses open to the public. There will be a provision of converting this space into ticketed areas for AFL matches and concerts. Some stadium walls will also be removed to provide a visual connection to the field of play;
  • Overlooking Wurundjeri Way, a ‘City Edge’ stadium extension on the Eastern side will include function rooms with views of both the arena and Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District) as its backdrop;
  • Two new larger video screens are to be hung from the roof at either end of the stadium, while upgrade lighting and technology will be implemented throughout the stadium for better viewing the nuances of the game;
  • External and internal LED lighting and LED video screens throughout the venue will enable home clubs to fully integrate their branding when hosting events at the arena;
  • Athletes will also be supported with upgrades to the team facilities with state-of-the-art changing rooms; and
  • Additional bicycle parking space will be created for fans in order to promote sustainable transport;

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