The talk of Melbourne and the AFL community this week has been Eddie McGuire’s radical proposal to demolish Etihad Stadium and build a brand new stadium with a retractable roof opposite the MCG in the Melbourne Park precinct.
Docklands Stadium, or Etihad Stadium, has never been a favourite of fans or players due to surface issues and a lack of infrastructure around the venue.
However, building a new 60,000 seat stadium right opposite the MCG has several problems.
Everywhere Eddie’s latest headline grabbing idea also includes moving Hisense Arena from its current location to accommodate the new AFL stadium. This simply cannot happen. Firstly, Tennis Australia have an agreement with the Melbourne Park Trust to host the Australian Open until at least 2036, making McGuire’s proposal almost impossible to come to fruition.
However, irrespective of that fact, Melbourne cannot allow a new purpose built AFL stadium in place of Hisense Arena anytime in the future. It would greatly jeopardise Melbourne’s ability to retain the Australian Open.
The first Grand Slam of the year garnishes an incredible amount of interest around the city and Melbourne is catapulted onto the world stage for two weeks of the year, resulting in a huge influx of tourists and revenue, with the Open contributing around $240 million in direct spend to Victoria each year.
A 60,000 stadium right across the road from the MCG is also highly impractical and would clutter the precinct, which is already home to AAMI Park, used for rugby league and union and football, the MCG, used for AFL and cricket and the tennis centre, home of the Australian Open.
As an alternative, the Docklands precinct, which services the people of the western and northern suburbs, should be kept and upgraded into a restaurant and café hub in order to become a more attractive destination for fans.
Once again, Eddie’s ideas are simply self-motivated and he has glossed over the fact that AFL is not the only sport played in Melbourne and in Australia.
His comments are not unusual however, as little over a month ago, he proposed a new radical fixturing model for the AFL. He has announced both of these ideas, which have been heavily debated by the media and fans alike, on his morning radio program, The Hot Breakfast, on Melbourne’s Triple M radio, no doubt in an attempt to raise ratings in the competitive world of breakfast radio.
Be sure to look out for Eddie’s next bold prediction on The Hot Breakfast as he looks for another ratings boost for Triple M.