There are few sports stadiums in the world with as cool a name as Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium, with the superhero franchise having taken over the ground’s naming rights in 2018 and even going as far as to install a Marvel merchandise shop on the premises.
The stadium’s previous incarnations include the Etihad Stadium, the Telstra Dome, and the Colonial Stadium, although its more generic name has always been Docklands Stadium because of its waterside positioning down on the Melbourne docks.
Five years on from Marvel stamping their own unique style and flair on the stadium, the powers that be down at the Docklands have decided to give the stadium an upgrade with help from local government funding.
Here we detail all the various improvements that are being mooted by developers as well as what it’s going to cost and when it’s planned to be finished.
This is what the stadium looked like back before it was given a upgrade fit for a sporting super hero
Why are Upgrades Needed?
The main reason for upgrades being required at the stadium is because it is not enough for a sports stadium to solely be in the business of hosting sporting events, because sports seasons typically do not run year round.
For a modern stadium to remain profitable, it must be getting used every week of the year and that means it must be set up to host everything from corporate events to eSports tournaments to massive live music gigs.
To make all these things viable it is also necessary to have the stadium be as well integrated and connected to the community and neighbourhood around it, and that is what the bulk of these upgrades are all about.
What Are the Upgrades?
The main sports hosted by the Marvel Stadium are AFL (Aussie rules football) and cricket. Indeed, an incredible five AFL teams already pack out the stadium for their regular season home games, with the stadium’s groundsmen working hard to ensure the pitch is in good enough condition to keep the sports betting action and athletic competition flowing. What many fans of St. Kilda, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Essendon, and Carlton will have noticed already, while taking a break from watching a game or perusing sports betting deals on their phone, is that two giant screens have been erected above the goals at both ends of the pitch. This upgrade was put in place early on during the refurbishments, so that AFL fans could enjoy the sort of instant replays that enhance the sports betting and viewing experience on match day.
Aside from the giant screens, developers will be paying particular focus to the Eastern entrance to the stadium, with a whole new concourse area replete with food and drink outlets, as well as better ticketing services being installed.
This will all make the experience of arriving at the stadium from the direction of Southern Cross Station a whole lot more comfortable and visually appealing. There will also be work done to create what will be known as the Town Square, which will be a slick looking plaza on the stadium’s south flank.
The good news for sports stars and fans alike is that at no point during the construction process will the stadium lay dormant, with matches and events expected to go ahead as normal. There is even better news for women’s teams who call the stadium home, as the athletes’ changing rooms will be completely revamped to better cater for the needs of both sexes.
This last detail is particularly forward thinking, with many women’s sports competitions and leagues beginning to pick up a head of steam, meaning that stadiums that don’t cater to women’s sport will end up missing out.
Of course, nothing done on this sort of scale comes cheap, and it will come as no surprise that the whole project will cost in the region of 225m Australian Dollars. That’s a pretty hefty price tag, especially when you consider that the original stadium was built from scratch in 2000 at a cost of $460m.
The building outfit in charge of ensuring everything stays on track and under budget is John Holland, who have been given the funds to proceed by the local government, who see the development as something necessary to boost the economy as well as upgrading the once downtrodden Docklands neighbourhood.
AFL fans should love the new stadium upgrades, all of which are designed to make a day more comfortable and exciting to boot
As the demand for high-quality housing and accommodation continues to grow in urban hubs such as Melbourne, it seems that no stadium redevelopment scheme can go by without developers insisting on throwing up a few high-rise flats as part of the bargain.
That is absolutely the case at Marvel Stadium, with an additional $400m being spent by a property developer called Home, to construct two residential tower blocks, one of which will be 30 storeys high and another that will be slightly shorter, coming in at 28 storeys.
The Time Frame
The whole stadium project is due for completion in early 2024, although fans will be keeping a keen eye on the progress being made because projects of such magnitude often have a habit of overrunning, especially in light of the current disruptions to global supply chains.
No Increase in Capacity
The only slight disappointment for some fans will be that nowhere in the planned upgrades is there mention of increasing the stadium’s capacity, meaning fans will still have to be quick on the draw for those huge events where tickets are like gold dust.
That said, the stadium’s current 56,000-seat capacity is still one of the best in Australia, with loyal fans being rewarded for sticking with their respective teams, rather than being jettisoned into lofty bleachers, from which the players or performers below look like matchstick men.
A revamped Marvel Stadium will most certainly establish Melbourne as one of the go-to sports destinations on the planet, with the stadium perfectly complimenting the city’s other iconic sports venues such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the Rod Laver Arena, and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.