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Etihad Stadium
800px-Etihad Stadium crop
Some attributes
First Former names:

Colonial Stadium Telstra Dome

Second Opened:

9 March 2000

Third Capacity:

56,347 (Venue Capacity) 53,359 (Seating Capacity)

Other attributes
Etihad Stadium is a multi-purpose sports and entertainment stadium in the Docklands precinct of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Construction started in October 1997 under the working name, "Victoria Stadium"  and was completed in 2000 at a cost of A$460 million.

Originally built as a replacement for Waverley Park, the stadium is primarily used for Australian rules football and is the headquarters of the Australian Football League (AFL) who, as part of the construction deal, assume ownership of the ground in 2025. Also headquartered at the stadium is Seven Network's digital broadcast centre.

The stadium has been host to other sporting events, including Melbourne Victory soccer matches, one-off matches for sports including cricket, rugby league and rugby union, and several specialised events and concerts.

The stadium has been controversial since its first construction and there has been a significant amount of criticism directed toward the facility, particularly from its major tenant, the AFL. The AFL have increasingly regarded the stadium owner as a hostile landlord, engaging in numerous lawsuits against the current owners and threatening to build a rival stadium as close as a kilometre away in the short-term.

History

Docklands Stadium, Melbourne, Christmas 1998

Docklands Stadium is seen here under construction (Christmas 1998)

The stadium was announced on 31 October 1996 as a replacement for the much larger Waverley Park as a headquarters for the Australian Football League. The opening match was played between Essendon and Port Adelaide before a crowd of 43,012. Eventual premiers of that season, Essendon, ended up victorious by 94 points, with full-forward Matthew Lloyd kicking seven goals. Originally developed by the Docklands Stadium Consortium and thereafter controlled by the Seven Network, the remaining leasehold interest in the stadium was sold to James Fielding Funds Management on 21 June 2006 for A$330 million. In 2025 the AFL is expected to take over the ownership.

Docklands Stadium, like Waverley Park, was built primarily for Australian rules football, unlike most grounds of a similar size in Australia which were originally designed for cricket.

In 2000, the first indoor One Day International was held when the Australian cricket team played South Africa in the "Super Challenge". It has been a venue for usually off-season one day matches but it held VB Series matches in 2006 due to the Melbourne Cricket Ground being unavailable due to preparations for it being the main stadium for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

The stadium is the first stadium to have movable seating in Australia. All four level-one tiers of the stadium can be moved up to 18 metres forward into a rectangular configuration. It was first used for a Melbourne Storm game in July 2001. Despite the seating being a key feature of the stadium, it has rarely been used, citing damage to turf, time to deploy the seats and a reduced capacity (the corners of the stadium in level 1 are not movable).

One-off events

Events that have been held at the Docklands Stadium include concerts by many famous artists.

KISS performed on 28 February 2003, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, for their live CD/DVD, Kiss Symphony: Alive IV.

The ground hosted two quarter finals of the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the Rgby 7s at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The stadium was used in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup for the Australia vs England game. In the summer months it is used as the home ground for Melbourne Victory games in the A-League and the AFC Champions League. The stadium is used for Rugby League State of Origin matches when they are played in Melbourne. This ground hosted the opening match of the 2012 series, earmarked as a New South Wales home game.

The stadium hosted a match from the International Rules Series in 2005 (due to the MCG undergoing works for the Commonwealth Games) and hosted another in 2011. Since 2003, it has been the venue for the E. J. Whitten Legends Game.

In 2001, Melbourne Knights and South Melbourne Hellas staged the only National Soccer League game to be held at this stadium.

In 2003, Bruce Springsteen + E STREET BAND played at the stadium on 20 March 2003 for The Rising Tour.

In December 2005, Green Day played a show at the stadium as part of their American Idiot World Tour.

The stadium hosted Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra's World Stadium tour on 13–15 November 2008.

Pearl Jam played the stadium on 20 November 2009 during their Backspacer Tour.

The stadium hosted The AC/DC Black Ice World Tour with 3 sellout shows on 11, 13 and 15 February 2010.

On 1 and 3 December 2010, U2 played their Melbourne shows of the U2 360° Tour at the stadium with Jay-Z as their support act. The stage was so large that the roof could not be closed.

On 11 December 2010, New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi played the stadium as part of The Circle Tour.

The stadium hosted the Armin van Buuren Armin Only Mirage event on 31 December 2010.

The stadium hosted the 1st day of Eminem Australian Tour 2011. Eminem also supported by Lil Wayne and Hilltop Hoods. The concert on 1 December 2011.

On the 13 November 2012, the stadium hosted UK band Coldplay for their Mylo Xyloto Tour.

On 5 January 2013 Mariah Carey will play one of three Australian Shows at the stadium.

 Naming rights history

300px-Etihad Stadium logo svg
The stadium was constructed by Baulderstone Hornibrook and opened on 9 March 2000, as Colonial Stadium. Colonial State Bank paid $32.5 million for 10 years of naming rights.In 2000, Commonwealth Bank took over Colonial State Bank and sold the naming rights to Telstra for about $50 million. The name was changed to Telstra Dome on 1 October 2002. During this time it was colloquially referred to as simply "The Dome", including by clubs who are sponsored by rival telecommunications companies (such as Essendon, who at the time were sponsored by 30nd Carlton who also at the time were sponsored by Optus). On 1 March 2009 the name was changed to Etihad Stadium, for an expected period of five years, when the naming rights transferred to Etihad Airways. Etihad Airways are paying an estimated $5–$8 million a year for naming rights at the Docklands stadium.Controversy surrounds the new name, with the AFL initially refusing to recognise it. AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan confirmed the AFL would not recognise the new name due to a lucrative sponsorship deal between the AFL and Australia's largest airline, Qantas.After negotiation between the two parties, AFL broadcasters and clubs are permitted by the governing body to use the stadium's sponsored name.

Stadium features

  • Docklands Stadium movable seating

    Moveable seating

    Retractable roof 38 metres (125 ft) above the playing surface, opens east-west, and takes eight minutes to fully open or close.
  • Movable seating
  • Two large internal replay screens which display scores and advertisements.
  • External super screen
  • 1000 video seats
  • 13 function rooms
  • 66 corporate boxes
  • Premium Club membership area, The Medallion Club
  • 500 car parking spaces below the ground
  • Oval shaped, turf playing surface of 19,053 square metres (205,080 sq ft) or 170 by 140 m (560 by 460 ft)
  • Over 700 2000-watt lights for arena illumination
  • A varying capacity of between 12,000 and 74,000, depending on the event. For example seats can be laid on the ground.
  • An AFL capacity of 53,359
  • Dimensions of playing area are 159.5 metres by 128.5 metres (174.4 yards by 140.5 yards)
  • The ends of the ground, where the AFL goal posts are located, are generally named after VFL/AFL goal-kicking legends Tony 'Plugger' Lockett and Gordon Coventry. The northern end is the Lockett End, and the southern end, the Coventry End. These names are subject to changes as appropriate for circumstances: for Essendon home matches, the Coventry End is renamed the Lloyd End, for Western Bulldogs home matches, the Coventry End is renamed the Footscray End and for VFL games, the ends are renamed after VFA/VFL goal-kicking legends Jim 'Frosty' Miller and Fred Cook.

Criticism

Several issues with the Docklands Stadium have caused growing resentment within the Australian Football League and prompted the league to publicly investigate an alternative third venue. At times this venue has been suggested as a redeveloped Princes Park Football Ground or a rival stadium in the Docklands area.

Playing surface issues

Since its inception, the Docklands Stadium has endured criticism over the quality and suitability of its playing surface, in particular for AFL requirements. It has been criticised by players and coaches for its slipperiness, hardness and lack of grass coverage.The turf has required regular expensive replacement since its inception due to a lack of sunlight inside the stadium. The turf itself is supplied under contract by HG Turf, whereas the responsibility of laying and managing the turf lies with Docklands Stadium management.

Issues with the ground's ability to grow grass all year round can be attributed to the stadium's irregular North-South orientation which was a requirement due to its placement between the surrounding roads and Docklands body of water. In particular, the Northern end of the stadium only receives 6 weeks of sunlight a year. Concerts held at the stadium are also usually placed at the Southern end due to the ability for grass to recover faster in that section of the ground.

In August 2007, Docklands Stadium chief executive Ian Collins confirmed talks were underway to purchase an elaborate lighting and heating system to allow grass to be grown by curators all year round. This followed extensive visits by Docklands Stadium officials to several FIFA World Cup venues in Germany, locations in the United States and Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium.

In 2007, studies were conducted by the University of Melbourne to investigate concerns that hard surfaces, such as the surface at the Docklands Stadium increase the likelihood of player injury, in particular anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries (knee).

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