The Victorian Government and the AFL are deliberating on the potential relocation of the Grand Final during the construction of the new Shane Warne Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Second Feasibility Study Nears Completion
A $2 billion rebuild of the iconic yet ageing 50,000-seat Stand is currently being examined through a second feasibility study, which aims to determine the most effective approach to the project.
Project Timeline at the Heart of the Issue
The primary concern is the duration required to complete this massive undertaking.
Water-tight Contract Involving Government, AFL, and MCG
The contract between the government, AFL, and Melbourne Cricket Club mandates that the Grand Final be held at the MCG until 2059.
This contract was extended from 2057 after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the relocation of the AFL match to the Gabba (2020) and Optus Stadium (2021).
Contract Clause Allowing Grand Final Relocation
The contract includes a clause stating that if the MCG’s capacity drops below 70,000, there are grounds for moving the AFL’s flagship event interstate.
The feasibility study looks into the timeline of the Shane Warne Stand rebuild, which will likely be done in stages.
Construction Period and Capacity Concerns
A three-year construction period would allow for a minimum of 70,000 capacity during the project, which would be crucial in keeping the Grand Final at the MCG.
However, the government and AFL might consider a shorter timeframe, potentially losing the Grand Final due to reduced capacity but saving hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs.
Possibility of Shopping the Grand Final Around
If circumstances align, the league might offer the Grand Final to the highest bidder.
Past Grand Final Venue Changes
The 1991 Grand Final took place at Waverley Park during the demolition of the then-Southern Stand.
Still, the MCG maintained the Grand Final while both the Ponsford and Olympic Stands were demolished and reconstructed.
Construction Timeline and Future Events
Construction of the new Shane Warne Stand is not expected to begin until 2028, as the Commonwealth Games will be held in Victoria in 2026, and the MCG aims to host the Rugby World Cup final in 2027 if Australia’s bid for the event is successful.
Need for Modernization by 2030
By 2030, the Shane Warne Stand will be 40 years old and no longer meet the public’s expectations like other modern stadiums nationwide.
The absence of public bars and restaurants and a congested layout puts it behind venues such as Optus Stadium and the Adelaide Oval in terms of amenities.