Sports fans will agree: when you’re traveling, nothing melts away cultural differences like joining a sea of screaming fans at a high-octane event. Often a source of national pride, sports merge culture, entertainment, food, and history into an experience that’s fun for the whole family.
Melburnians are known around the world for their love of sports, and every year millions of sports fans from around the world, flock to the city to experience a live sporting occasion in the purpose-built, accessible and atmospheric venues that dot the city. Melbourne plays home to sporting events of different kinds and popularities and is steeped in sporting history.
The coliseum that is the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is one of Melbourne’s most recognisable sights. The home of Aussie cricket, the summer home of the major Australian Football League (AFL) games, and the site of the 1956 Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the MCG has a seating capacity of 100,000. The unified roar of a capacity crowd when a prized wicket is taken or a miraculous goal is kicked leaves a lasting impression.
A stone’s throw from the MCG is Melbourne Park, made up of Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena. The cutting-edge facilities at Rod Laver Arena, including a world-first retractable roof and the Rebound Ace courts, are home to the annual Australian Open tennis grand slam. Hisense Arena is a multi-purpose venue housing the Melbourne Tigers basketball team and the Melbourne Vixens netballers with regular big games for the Aussie Diamonds international netball team. In addition, Hisense Arena is the venue for major cycling events in Melbourne.
The distinctive AAMI Park stadium is adjacent to Melbourne Park and is the city’s dedicated venue for soccer and rugby. Since its opening in 2010 the stadium quickly became an icon thanks to its bubble ‘bioframe’ design and geodesic-dome roof. The unique design ensures spectators enjoy unobstructed views as they watch the Melbourne Storm rugby league stars, the Melbourne Rebels rugby union team, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart in the A-League domestic soccer competition. The Australian National Team, known as “the Socceroos”, are also known to regularly grace the turf of AAMI Park.
All of these centres of sport in Melbourne are within a 15-minute walk of each other and are contained within the Melbourne Sports Precinct. The sports precinct makes visiting the city to watch several different sports so easy and accessible, as unlike other cities across the globe, it doesn’t require a long day of travelling back and forth from different stadiums and parks around the outskirts of the city. Everything you could want is contained in one handy area.
Melbourne’s love for football surpasses just one venue, so a covered stadium with a smaller capacity in the Docklands, called the Etihad Stadium also hosts AFL matches during the winter months. The AFL is headquartered here, and nine of the League’s teams are based in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Up to five AFL matches are played each week in Melbourne, attracting an average of 40,000 people per game.
Another venue that’s almost as famous as the events held within is Flemington Racecourse, home of the Melbourne Cup horse race. The historic grandstands and renowned rose gardens have hosted the most revered horses in racing history and continue to attract hundreds of thousands of racegoers (and gamblers) to the annual Spring Racing Carnival and the Christmas and New Year’s races.
“…Melbourne plays home to so many sporting events of different kinds and popularities and is steeped in sporting history.”
Fans of motorsport can catch road racing, drag racing and speedway at Calder Park, Avalon Raceway and Sandown International Motor Raceway, or can head to the famous Albert Park for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix which has acted as the curtain raiser to Formula 1 season for 20 out of the last 22 seasons.
Lastly, Melbourne was proclaimed the “World’s Ultimate Sports City” in the SportsBusiness Ultimate Sports City Awards in 2006, 2008 and 2010. When you fuse everything we’ve talked about together, the only surprise is that the ‘City on the Bay’ hasn’t won more often.