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Aami Park
Aamipark
Some attributes
First Opened:

7 May 2010

Second Operator:

Melbourne & Olympic Parks Trust

Third Surface:

StaLok Turf

Other attributes
Fourth Other Names:

Melbourne Rectangular Stadium

AAMI Park is an outdoor sports stadium on the site of Edwin Flack Field on Olympic Boulevard in the Sports and Entertainment Precinct, in inner Melbourne. The stadium's major tenants are the Melbourne Storm (NRL), Melbourne Rebels (Super Rugby) and A-League teams Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart.

AAMI Park became Melbourne's first large purpose-built rectangular stadium. At the time of its conception the largest stadiums in use were the MCG, Docklands Stadium and Princes Park. These were all of oval configuration and best suited to Australian rules football or cricket. The largest rectangular stadium in the city, Olympic Park, was a repurposed track and field venue. Referred to as Melbourne Rectangular Stadium during its construction, the ground was officially named AAMI Park on 16 March 2010, in an eight-year sponsorship deal with the insurance firm.

 History

Olympic Park Stadium, Melbourne's main "rectangular" venue, could hold 18,500 people, but with only 11,000 seated. When Melbourne Storm entered the National Rugby League, they played their home games at Olympic Park. Melbourne Victory moved a game to Docklands Stadium against rivals Sydney FC in September 2006. They then moved all their games except one from Olympic Park to Docklands midway through the season.

In 2004, as part of Melbourne's bid for a Super Rugby team, the Victorian Government prepared an economic impact study on the development of a world class rectangular stadium in Melbourne. But in late 2004, the bid lost out to the Western Australian consortium, who later renamed themselves the Western Force. In November 2009, when the competition expanded to 15 teams, the Melbourne consortium won the 15th Super Rugby licence, and the Melbourne Rebels agreed to play their games at AAMI Park.

On 6 April 2006 the Victorian Government announced that a $190 million 20,000 seat rectangular stadium would be built on the site of Edwin Flack Field and would be home to Melbourne Storm and A-League team Melbourne Victory. The stadium's planned capacity was increased to 30,000, with foundations capable of expansion to a capacity of 50,000 if needed. The stadium began construction in late 2007.

On 23 November 2009 it was announced that the stadium's first match would be the 2010 ANZAC Test between the Australian and New Zealand rugby league teams on 7 May 2010. The stadium was referred to as Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Swan Street Stadium or the Bubble Dome during its early construction. The stadium's commercial name was announced as AAMI Park on 16 March 2010 in an eight-year deal.

The stadium held its first event, rugby league's 2010 ANZAC Test, on 7 May 2010. The opening ceremony featured retired player and the NRL's all-time highest point-scorer, Hazem El Masri, kicking a goal. Australia defeated New Zealand 12–8 in front of a sell-out crowd. Two days later the first National Rugby League match was played at the stadium when the Brisbane Broncos defeated the Melbourne Storm in front of a crowd of 20,042.

On 7 August 2010 the stadium played host to its first A-League match. It was also another first, as Melbourne Heart FC played their first game in front of 11,050 fans against the Central Coast Mariners. The Heart lost 1–0, and Alex Wilkinson had the honour of scoring the first goal. The first Melbourne Victory match was played at AAMI Park v Perth Glory in front of 21,193 fans. On 2 December 2011 AAMI Park hosted its first concert when the Foo Fighters perform at AAMI Park as part of their Wasting Light World Tour.

Stadium

800px-Rlias

Rugby league being played on AAMI Park

The stadium features a "Bioframe" design, with a geodesic dome roof covering much of the seating area, while still allowing light through to the pitch. The northern and southern sides of the stadiums are called the Olympic Side and Yarra Side respectively. The exterior of the stadium is covered in thousands of LED lights which can be programmed to display a variety of patterns and images.

The stadium includes training facilities and office accommodation for Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Football Club, the Victorian Rugby Union, the Victorian Olympic Council, Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre (OPSMC), Imaging@Olympic Park Radiology and Tennis Victoria. The stadium will be used by the Melbourne Demons as their administration headquarters. The team had wanted the stadium completed by 2008 to coincide with its 150th anniversary. It is planned to house public bars and cafes, 24 corporate boxes, a dining room with a capacity of 1000 people, a gym and lap pool.

Capacity

The stadium was initially proposed to have a seating capacity of 20,000, upgradeable to 25,000. This was due to both expected demand, as well as a state government agreement with Docklands Stadium that no stadiums with a capacity greater than 30,000 would be constructed in Melbourne before 2010. These plans were revised after the Victory refused to commit to playing at a stadium of such small capacity, having achieved an average attendance of over 27,000 since their move to the Docklands Stadium in the 2006–07 A-League Season.

Alternative plans put forward by the Victorian Government proposed a capacity of 30,050, on the condition that the Victory sign on as a tenant. An agreement was reached and the stadium went ahead at this capacity.[1]] To assist with the extended capacity, temporary stands can be erected behind the goals during soccer matches and removed during rugby league games so as to allow space for the in-goal area. Although the stadium was built with foundations to allow for future expansion to 50,000, the roof was not designed with this in mind, and so the stadium cannot be expanded without major construction work.

Crowd records

Sport/Event Description Comment Date Crowd Number
Concert Foo Fighters Wasting Light Tour 3 December 2011 30,000
Rugby League Australia vs New Zealand 2010 ANZAC Test 7 May 2010 29,442
Football Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC 2012-13 A-League season 26 January 2013 26,882
Rugby Union Melbourne Rebels vs NSW Waratahs 2011 Super Rugby season Round 1 18 February 2011 25,524