Melbourne Cricket Ground
Source: Go to the National Heritage List for more information.
Location: Brunton Av, Jolimont
Government: Melbourne City
Significance: The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) was established in 1853 when Lieutenant-Governor La Trobe provided 10 acres of land in Yarra Park to the Melbourne Cricket Club. In the intervening 150 years the MCG has developed into one of the largest, most recognisable and modern sports stadiums in the world.
The MCG is the home of the Melbourne Cricket Club, the first cricket club in Victoria and a major contributor to the development of cricket in Victoria and Australia from the middle of the nineteenth century. The Melbourne Cricket Club organised the inaugural inter-colonial first-class cricket match between Victoria and New South Wales on the MCG in 1856. The first test match between Australia and England was also played on the MCG in 1877.
In 1858 Tom Wills and other members of the Melbourne Cricket Club devised the rules of the Melbourne Football Club, which became the codified rules of Australian Rules football. Football was played on the MCG for the first time in 1859 and since the late nineteenth century the MCG has been the symbolic home of football, first in Victoria and, with the establishment of the Australian Football League, in Australia as a whole.
The MCG has become associated with many of the finest sporting achievements of Australia’s, and many of the world’s greatest athletes. It was the site of the 1956 Olympic Games, the first in the southern hemisphere.
There is a continuity of use of the MCG for domestic cricket from 1856, international cricket from 1877, and Australian Rules football since the 1880s. Spectator and playing facilities at the ground have evolved to support on-going use and contemporary standards. Of the little remaining pre-1992 fabric, approximately 30% of the wrought iron fence around the playing arena, dating from 1884, is in situ and is a significant aspect of the place.
The significance of the MCG extends far beyond that of a mere sports stadium. It is an integral part of the fabric of Melbourne and the nation, and has gained an egalitarian image as ‘the people’s ground’.
Description: The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is the largest sporting arena in the city of Melbourne and has the highest seating capacity of any outdoor stadium in Australia. It is used principally for international and domestic cricket and Australian Rules football. It was the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games and in March 2006 will be the centrepiece of the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
The MCG playing surface is an oval, 160 metres long and 138 metres wide at its centre. It is a natural (grass) surface and a turf cricket pitch is prepared and dropped in to the playing arena for international and domestic cricket. The oval is surrounded by a metal railing fence.
A major redevelopment of spectator facilities at the ground commenced in 1990. Current spectator facilities consist of the Great Southern Stand, completed in 1992, and the new Ponsford and Northern Stands which commenced in 2002 and have been progressively opened for public use. The final stage of construction, the Northern Stand, is due for completion in January 2006.
The redevelopment has involved demolition of the Western Stand (Ponsford Stand), the Members’ Stand and the Northern Stand (Olympic) to allow for new stands on the western and northern sides of the ground. When the new Northern Stand is completed in January 2006, the capacity of the stadium will be restored to 100,000 seats. The new grandstands incorporate many of today’s most advanced design features and provide world-class viewing facilities for spectators. The Great Southern Stand won the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) Sir Zelman Cowan Award for public buildings and the RAIA Victorian Chapter Award in 1992.
The erection of six lighting towers, first used in February 1985, has enabled both cricket and football to be played at night.
VHR Statement of Significance
What is significant?
The Melbourne Cricket Ground was established in 1853 when 10 acres of land at Yarra Park in Jolimont was set aside for the use of the Melbourne Cricket Club, the purpose of the reserve being 'to promote the recreation and amusement of the people and ... to provide a site or place for the playing of cricket within the City of Melbourne in our said Colony.' Since 1862, the ground has been administered by a government-appointed trust (the MCG Trust) which continues to delegate its day-to-day management to the Melbourne Cricket Club. From its beginnings as a simple paddock-like ground with a modest pavilion and with limited grandstand and other facilities scattered around the perimeter, the Melbourne Cricket Ground has evolved and expanded through a process of phased redevelopment and renewal into a major piece of sporting infrastructure serving the metropolitan area and the State as a whole. Currently, the stadium comprises four principal stands, the MCC Members Pavilion (the third on the site, designed by Stephenson and Meldrum and completed in 1927), the Northern (Olympic) Stand (designed by AW Purnell and completed in 1956), the Western (Ponsford) Stand (designed by Tompkins, Shaw & Evans and completed in 1968) and the Great Southern Stand (designed by Daryl Jackson in association with Tompkins Shaw & Evans and completed in 1992), the oval, light towers (1984) and Australian Gallery of Sport (1986).
How is it significant?
The Melbourne Cricket Ground is of historical, social, aesthetic and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The MCG is of historical and social significance at a State, national and international level, as one of the oldest and largest capacity contained sporting venues in the world and one of the best-known of international cricket grounds, and as the pre-eminent venue for top-level cricket in Australia since the mid to late nineteenth century. Since the late nineteenth century it has also been the main venue and symbolic home of Australian Rules Football in Melbourne, making it of great historical and social significance in a State and metropolitan context, and - following the expansion of the Australian Football League to include interstate clubs - in a national context. The MCG is also historically and socially significant as the main venue and ceremonial focus for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, and for its associations with numerous other sports and events.
The MCG is also of historical and social significance for its association with the Melbourne Cricket Club, the oldest club in Victoria and a major force in the development of cricket and other sports in Victoria from the nineteenth century. This association is reflected in the Members Pavilion, which is the third such pavilion constructed for the purpose. As well as being the repository of Victoria?s cricketing traditions, the pavilion occupies the prime position for viewing events, particularly cricket, and allows members access to a range of private facilities such as the dining room and the long room.
In the broader context, the MCG is also of historical and social significance for its egalitarian image as the 'people's ground' and its long tradition of serving the people of Victoria. The MCG is socially significant as a living icon, a focus of attention in which importance lies in participating in events as well as experiencing the place itself.
The MCG is of aesthetic significance primarily for its overall form and scale. The MCG is a landmark on the edge of the city, a vast stadium which retains its traditional parkland setting. Whether full or empty, the stadium is of considerable aesthetic power and significance and is a place of energy and great atmosphere.
Within the broader conception of the MCG, there are elements with their own architectural significance. Firstly, the Members Pavilion by Stephenson and Meldrum (1927), is architecturally important as a large and relatively intact grandstand from the interwar period, although an appreciation of its impressive facade is marred by the somewhat intrusive Australian Gallery of Sport of 1986. Secondly, the Great Southern Stand by Daryl Jackson in association with Tompkins Shaw and Evans (1992) has been the recipient of a wide range of design awards and has generally been received with acclaim by architectural critics.
Year Construction Started 1927
Architect / Designer Stephenson & Meldrum