Docklands Stadium

Docklands Stadium, also known by naming rights sponsorship as Marvel Stadium, is a multi-purpose sports and entertainment stadium in the Docklands area of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Construction started in October 1997, under the working name "Victoria Stadium",[4] and was completed in 2000 at a cost of A$460 million.

Docklands Stadium
Marvel Stadium
An AFL game at Docklands Stadium in May 2010, with the roof opened
Former namesColonial Stadium (2000–2002)
Telstra Dome (2002–2009)
Etihad Stadium (2009–2018)
LocationHarbour Esplanade, Docklands, Melbourne, Australia
Coordinates37°48′59″S 144°56′51″E
OwnerAustralian Football League
OperatorMelbourne Stadiums Limited
Capacity56,347 (venue capacity)
53,359 (seating capacity)
47,000 (cricket[1][2] and rectangular mode)[3]
Broke groundOctober 1997
Opened9 March 2000
Construction costA$460 million
ArchitectPopulous in association with Daryl Jackson
General contractorBaulderstone Hornibrook
Australian Football League

Essendon Football Club (2000–present)
St Kilda Football Club (2000–present)
Western Bulldogs (2000–present)
North Melbourne Football Club (2000–present)
Carlton Football Club (2005–present)


Melbourne Renegades (BBL; 2011–present)
Melbourne Renegades (WBBL; 2015–present)

Melbourne Storm (NRL; 2001, 2010)
Melbourne Victory FC (A-League; 2006–present)
Ground information
End names
Lockett End (Lloyd End at Essendon home games)
Coventry End
International information
First ODI16 August 2000:
 Australia v  South Africa
Last ODI3 February 2006:
 Australia v  South Africa
As of 22 August 2015
Source: ESPNcricinfo

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) which, since 7 October 2016, has had exclusive ownership of the venue.[5] Also headquartered in the stadium precinct is Seven Network's digital broadcast centre.

The stadium also hosts a number of other sporting events, including some domestic Twenty20 cricket matches, Melbourne Victory soccer home matches, one-off rugby league and rugby union matches as well as number of special events and concerts.


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.[6] 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.[7] Under the terms of the agreement governing construction and operation of the venue, in 2025 the AFL were to win ownership of the stadium for a $30 fee.[8]

The 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.

The first match to be played at the ground was between Essendon and Port Adelaide, before a crowd of 43,012, in Round 1 of the 2000 AFL season. Essendon won the match by 94 points, with Michael Long kicking the first ever goal at the ground.[9] The first game that was played with the roof closed was between the Western Bulldogs and the Brisbane Lions the following weekend.

Docklands Stadium was the first stadium in Australia to have movable seating. 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).

Docklands Stadium first featured rugby league football when it was used as the Melbourne Storm's home ground for one season in 2001. The Storm continued to play home games at the ground sporadically in the following years. Docklands was also the venue for the third and deciding game of the 2006 State of Origin series and Australia's home game against New Zealand in the 2006 Tri-nations series. During the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Australia played England at the stadium and the opening games of the 2009 and 2012 State of Origin series were also played here, the latter attracting 56,021, a new record for rugby league at the stadium.[10]

In 2015, LED electronic advertising was added around the perimeter of the ground on level 1 and 2.

On 24 October 2015, the stadium hosted motorcycle speedway when it played host to the 2015 Speedway Grand Prix of Australia (on a 346 metres (378 yards) long temporary track) which was the twelfth and final round of the 2015 Speedway Grand Prix World Championship season. It was the first time Australia had hosted a round of the SGP event since the final round of the 2002 season in Sydney. With stadium capacity capped at 42,000 for the event, 26,609 fans saw 45 year old American rider Greg Hancock take out his 20th SGP Final (coincidentally, Hancock had also won the 2002 event). Danish rider Niels-Kristian Iversen finished second with Poland's Maciej Janowski finishing third. The reigning Australian Champion, Jason Doyle, qualified for the final but was outed in a crash in the first turn in which he suffered neck and chest injuries. A fully conscious Doyle was then transported to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for observation.[11] Doyle managed to win the 2017 meeting and that season's world title after he was forced to miss the 2016 meeting after he was injured in the previous meeting in To run, Poland which many thought cost him the 2016 title.

In March 2016, it was announced that Collingwood president Eddie McGuire had taken a proposal to the state government for the stadium to be sold for redevelopment when the AFL gain ownership of the stadium in 2025, with a new similar size stadium built within the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct.[12] The plan was rejected by the AFL. Prior to the start of the 2016 AFL season the seats in the Medallion Club were replaced. The old seats in the Medallion Club section were relocated to other areas in the ground.

On 7 October 2016, the AFL Commission announced that the league had acquired exclusive ownership of the stadium. The league elected to buy out the owners'share for a figure believed to be approximately $200 million, rather than wait until 2025 when the league would automatically acquire ownership of the venue for $30.[5]

At the end of the 2016/17 Big Bash, the stadium was rated the most entertaining venue for T20 cricket in Australia.[13]

Naming rights history

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.[14] In 2000, Commonwealth Bank took over Colonial State Bank and later 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 which are sponsored by rival telecommunications companies (such as Essendon, which at the time were sponsored by 3 and Carlton which also at the time were sponsored by Optus). On 1 March 2009, when the naming rights transferred to Etihad Airways,[15] the venue officially became known as "Etihad Stadium" and in August 2012 the partnership was extended for five more years until 2019.[16] Etihad Airways paid an estimated $5–$8 million a year for naming rights at the Docklands stadium.[17] Controversy surrounded 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.[18] After negotiation between the two parties, AFL broadcasters and clubs are permitted by the governing body to use the stadium's sponsored name. In September 2018, the stadium was renamed for a fourth time, to "Marvel Stadium", after the stadium operators negotiated a deal with The Walt Disney Company (the parent company of Marvel Entertainment) to change the naming rights and install a Marvel retail store at the venue.[19]

2010 stadium damage

The venue was damaged by a thunderstorm on the afternoon of 6 March 2010 during the 2010 Victorian storms. The external roof at Gate 2 caved in, causing damage and flooding inside the entertainment area. Because of the damage, the St Kilda v Fremantle NAB Cup semi-final was delayed due to WorkSafe inspections. Only around 5000 people made it back into the venue when it was safe to return.[20]


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 Melbourne venue. At times this venue has been suggested as a redeveloped Princes Park Football Ground or a rival stadium in the Docklands area.[21][22]

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. Prior to assuming ownership of the ground in 2016, the AFL regarded the stadium owner as a hostile landlord, engaging in numerous lawsuits against the then-owners and threatening to build a rival stadium as close as a kilometre away in the short-term.[23][23]

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.[24] 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.[25]

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.[26]

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.[26]

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).[27]

Before the 2015 AFL season synthetic turf was installed around the perimeter of the playing surface. The most controversial sections were around the AFL interchange gates as well as where the goals are located where the synthetic turf comes right up to the playing area (the synthetic turf at the goals was moved several metres closer to the fence in March 2017). This was highlighted after a Brisbane Lions player suffered a season ending ACL injury and one coach labelling the surface 'dangerous' after a game at the venue.[28][29]

Stadium features

  • Retractable roof 38 metres (125 ft) above the playing surface, opens east-west, and takes eight minutes to fully open or close.[30]
  • Movable seating (4 sections of the lower tier can move 18 metres forward to give a rectangular configuration)
  • 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 and the Lockett End is renamed the Fletcher End, for Western Bulldogs home matches, the Lockett End is renamed the Footscray End[31] and for VFL games, the ends are renamed after VFA/VFL goal-kicking legends Jim 'Frosty' Miller and Fred Cook.

Home teams

The Docklands Stadium is the official home ground to five[32] AFL teams. Carlton, Essendon, North Melbourne, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs use the stadium as their primary home ground, although all the Victorian-based teams have played home games at the ground. The AFL highest home and away attendance recorded at the Docklands Stadium was set on 5 July 2009 when 54,444 people watched St Kilda play Geelong in Round 14.

Melbourne Victory also play home matches at Docklands. Originally, the plan was that the stadium would only be used for A-League games against the Victory's biggest rivals, Sydney FC, in the 2006/07 A-League season due to the prediction of a large crowd. All other games were supposed to be at the Victory's usual home ground, Olympic Park Stadium. A record crowd of 39,730 attended the game. After the success of the game, the Victory found Olympic Park's capacity of 18,000 too small, especially after the Round 4 match at Olympic Park attracted a capacity crowd of 17,617. Melbourne then moved all their home games except one against the struggling New Zealand Knights to Docklands for the 2006/07 season. The move was a success, with a 27,000 crowd average. The Victory decided to move all their home games permanently from the 2007/08 season. This also gave the stadium a major summer tenant, which the stadium lacked in its early years.

Melbourne Victory continued to play all games at Docklands until the end of the 2009/10 season, when their new home at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium was completed. The Victory would play blockbuster and finals games at Docklands, with all other games being played at the new stadium. The Victory still play five home games at the venue as well as all home finals matches.

In the 2001 NRL season the stadium was the home ground for the Melbourne Storm. It also hosted one home game in 2008 and three home games in 2010. In 2007 and 2009, the stadium was also used as the Storm's home finals venue due to the low capacity of its then normal home ground, Olympic Park Stadium.

The Big Bash League side Melbourne Renegades also plays its home games at the Docklands Stadium.



Sport Date Crowd Event
Concerts 9-12 March 2018 257,751 Ed Sheeran
Rugby Union 29 June 2013 56,771 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia: Australia vs British and Irish Lions
One Day International 38,364 Commonwealth Bank Series
Big Bash League 12 January 2018 44,316 2017–18 Big Bash League Round 7: Melbourne Renegades vs Melbourne Stars
A-League 18 February 2007 55,436 2007 A-League Grand Final: Melbourne Victory vs Adelaide United
National Team 11 June 2013 43,785 2014 World Cup Qualification Fourth Round: Australia vs Jordan
State of Origin 23 May 2012 56,021 2012 State of Origin Game I: Queensland vs New South Wales
NRL 23 September 2007 33,427 2007 NRL Preliminary Final: Melbourne Storm vs Parramatta Eels
AFL 5 July 2009 54,444 2009 AFL Round 14: St Kilda vs Geelong
International Rules 28 October 2005 45,428 2005 International Rules Series 2nd Test: Australia vs Ireland
Motorsport 24 October 2015 26,609* Speedway Grand Prix Round 12 2015: Speedway Grand Prix of Australia

* Stadium capacity capped at 42,000 for the Speedway Grand Prix

AFL records



  • Highest winning percentage: Geelong at 66.84% from 65 wins, 32 losses and one draw
  • Lowest winning percentage: Gold Coast at 22.73% from 5 wins, 17 losses
  • Most wins: St Kilda with 138 wins, 6 draws and 107 losses at 56.18%
  • Highest score: Geelong 35.12 (222) defeated Richmond 9.11 (65), 6 May 2007
  • Lowest score: Adelaide 3.6 (24) defeated by St Kilda 19.13 (127), 22 July 2011
  • Highest margin: Geelong (vs Richmond), 157 points, 6 May 2007
  • Highest score in a quarter: Essendon 15.4 (94) vs. Gold Coast 0.1 (1), 1 May 2011

Last updated 14 October 2019.[33]

International cricket

On 16 August 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 the first game of the 2004 Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series in December and 3 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.

ODI centuries

The following table summarises the ODI centuries scored at Docklands.

No.ScorePlayerTeamBallsInns.Opposing teamDateResult
1 106Michael Bevan Australia 1251 South Africa16 August 2000Won
2 114*Steve Waugh Australia 1031 South Africa16 August 2000Won
3 103Adam Gilchrist Australia 791ICC World XI7 October 2005Won

Rugby league test matches

The Docklands Stadium hosted two Australia internationals. The stadium was in rectangular mode for the 2006 Tri-Nations game.[34]

DateOpponentsResultAttendancePart of
21 October 2006 New Zealand20–1530,7322006 Rugby League Tri-Nations group stage
2 November 2008 England52–436,2972008 Rugby League World Cup Group A

Rugby league state of origin matches

The Docklands Stadium has hosted three rugby league State of Origin series games between Queensland and New South Wales.

15 July 2006 Queensland def. New South Wales 18–1654,8332006 State of Origin series Game III
23 June 2009 Queensland def. New South Wales 28–1850,9672009 State of Origin series Game I
323 May 2012 Queensland def. New South Wales 18–1056,0212012 State of Origin series Game I

Rugby union internationals

The Docklands has also hosted a number of rugby union internationals including matches during the 2003 Rugby World Cup which was held in Australia.

Date Competition Home team Away team Attendance
7 July 20012001 Tom Richards Trophy Australia35British and Irish Lions1456,605
22 June 20022002 Trophée des Bicentenaires Australia29 France1737,482
6 June 20032003 Cook Cup Australia14 England2554,868
11 October 20032003 Rugby World Cup Pool D New Zealand70 Italy741,715
12 October 20032003 Rugby World Cup Pool D Wales41 Canada1024,874
17 October 20032003 Rugby World Cup Pool D New Zealand68 Canada638,899
26 October 20032003 Rugby World Cup Pool C England35 Samoa2250,647
1 November 20032003 Rugby World Cup Pool A Australia17 Ireland1654,206
8 November 20032003 Rugby World Cup Quarter-final 1 New Zealand29 South Africa940,734
9 November 20032003 Rugby World Cup Quarter-final 3 France43 Ireland2133,134
13 June 20042004 Hopetoun Cup Australia35 Scotland1538,222
25 June 20052005 mid-year internationals Australia69 Italy2126,520
17 June 20062006 Cook Cup Australia43 England1856,000
14 June 20082008 Lansdowne Cup Australia18 Ireland1241,700
20 June 20092009 mid-year internationals Australia34 Italy1220,280
31 July 20102010 Tri Nations Series / Bledisloe Cup Australia28 New Zealand4951,409
16 June 20122012 James Bevan Trophy Australia25 Wales2333,880
29 June 20132013 Tom Richards Trophy Australia16British and Irish Lions1556,771
14 June 20142014 Trophée des Bicentenaires Australia6 France027,189

The venue appeared in the 2007 film Ghost Rider. Its name, wherever visible, was digitally changed to the SoBe Dome. It can also be seen in the video for Jessica Mauboy's single Running Back, as well as some television shows, such as the Seven Network's City Homicide and Network Ten's Rush. The stadium was also visible in the background during broadcasts of Seven News Melbourne and Nine News Melbourne for periods up until 2013 and 2006 respectively when both bulletins took shots overlooking the city's east.

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 Rugby 7s at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.[30] 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 has been used for State of Origin series 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 2006 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.

WWE hosted a non-televised[35][36] live event[37][38] at the stadium on 10 August 2002 as part of the WWE Global Warning Tour: Melbourne. The event attracted 56,734 fans.

In May 2013, the stadium hosted a match between Queanbeyan Football Club and Werribee Football Club as part of the Foxtel Cup.[39]

On 14 November 2015, UFC 193 was held at the stadium.[40] This was the first UFC event to be held in Melbourne. The event attracted a UFC record attendance of 56,214 fans, beating the previous the record for the highest attendance at a UFC event when 55,724 attended UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[41]

The stadium will host an international men's basketball friendly series on 22 and 24 August 2019, with Australia hosting the United States in warm-up matches for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. As of November 2018, the 24 August match had already sold out, with the 22 August match also expected to sell out in the near future.[42]


15 & 17 March 2000 Barbra Streisand 70,000 Part of the Timeless Tour
1 December 2002 Red Hot Chili Peppers 21,729 Part of the By The Way Tour
28 February 2003 KISS 59,958 Recording of Kiss Symphony: Alive IV
20 March 2003 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Part of The Rising Tour
10 December 2003 Robbie Williams 57,027 Part of The 2003 Tour
17 December 2005 Green Day 8,439 Part of the American Idiot World Tour
18–19 November 2006 U2 127,275 Part of the Vertigo Tour
17–18 December 2006 Robbie Williams 125,274 Part of the Close Encounters Tour
13–15 November 2008 André Rieu Part of the stadium tour with the Johann Strauss Orchestra
20 November 2009 Pearl Jam 45,000 Part of the Backspacer Tour
3 March 2010 George Michael 47,000 Part of the George Michael Live in Australia tour
11,13 & 15 February 2010 AC/DC 181,495 Part of the Black Ice World Tour
1 & 3 December 2010 U2 105,312 Part of the U2 360° Tour
11 December 2010 Bon Jovi 54,414 Part of The Circle Tour
31 December 2010 Armin van Buuren 15,000 Part of 'Armin Only Mirage' event
1 December 2011 Eminem 61,405 Part of The Recovery Tour
13 November 2012 Coldplay 63,378 Part of the Mylo Xyloto Tour
5 January 2013 Mariah Carey 46,500 Part of the one-off Australian tour
5–6 March 2013 KISS/Mötley Crüe Part of the Monster Tour
7 & 8 December 2013 Bon Jovi 91,505 Part of the Because We Can: The Tour
14 December 2013 Taylor Swift 47,257 Part of the Red Tour
19 February 2014 Eminem 59,675 Part of the Rapture Tour
18 & 19 September 2014 Justin Timberlake 41,777 Part of The 20/20 Experience World Tour
14–15 February 2015 One Direction 59,253 Part of On the Road Again Tour
28 February 2015 Foo Fighters 56,981 Part of the Sonic Highways World Tour
6 & 8 December 2015 AC/DC 100,000 / 100,000 Part of the Rock or Bust World Tour
12-14 February 2016 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 152,673 Five performances
9 & 10 December 2016 Coldplay 109,492 Part of the A Head Full of Dreams Tour
10 March 2017 Justin Bieber 54,821 Part of the Purpose World Tour
18 & 19 March 2017 Adele 152,300 Part of the Adele Live 2017 Tour
30 January 2018 Foo Fighters Part of the Concrete and Gold Tour
9, 10, 11 & 12 March 2018 Ed Sheeran 256,622 Part of the ÷ Tour
26 October 2018 Taylor Swift 63,027 Part of Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour
15 November 2019 U2 58,080 Part of The Joshua Tree Tour 2019


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