*Extract from the 2011/12 MCG Trust Annual Report
2011 was a highly significant year for the MCG Trust, being the 150th anniversary of the appointment of the initial MCG Trustees in 1861.
The occasion was marked with a dinner that celebrated the amazing history of Melbourne’s sporting ground that has come to mean so much to so many.
Sporting legends, Ron Barassi and John Landy among them, spoke movingly of what the ground means to them, while to mark the occasion, one of Australia’s greatest ever sporting champions, Cadel Evans, made the outstanding gesture of providing his Tour de France yellow championship bike as a permanent exhibition for the National Sports Museum at the MCG.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground has for generations retained its status as Australia’s pre-eminent sports stadium in no small measure due to the commitment of successive MCG Trusts and MCC Committees to ensuring it remains that way.
This remains as true today as it was when the Olympic Stand was built in 1956 for Melbourne’s Olympic Games, the Great Southern Stand in 1992 for Australia’s only cricket World Cup, and the new Northern Stand in 2006 for Melbourne’s Commonwealth Games.
Today’s MCG Trust and MCC Committee are giving expression to this desire for excellence through two major projects now nearing finality.
One is to refurbish and upgrade the Great Southern Stand, the other to improve and make Yarra Park self sufficient in non-potable water whilst reducing the MCG’s potable water by some 50m/l per year through a major new water recycling facility.
These projects will provide outstanding long term assets for the ground. Patrons can already see for themselves the improvement in facilities and amenity in and around the Great Southern Stand.
We have completed a new, large capacity AFL Members’ dining room; refurbished the Jack Ryder and Lindsay Hassett rooms and the Barassi Cafe; launched a new AFL sports bar (replacing the old Bunton Bar) featuring multiple large video screens, which has quickly become very popular; and improved the stand entrance ways.
Refurbished Tom Wills, Keith Miller and Legends rooms and additional improvements to ground entrances and exteriors are all due to be finished in time for the AFL finals this year. We thank our partners, the Victorian Government and the AFL in these important projects.
The environment facing sporting stadiums everywhere is changing, perhaps the most rapidly during the MCG’s 150-year life. Technology and digital media now occupy a central role in our lives.
Only a decade ago few could have conceived that we would now take for granted the ability to watch all AFL matches anywhere, anytime (especially live) and usually in high definition; that we could broadcast our thoughts real time to our (keenly awaiting!) fellow spectators at the ground via the MCG scoreboard; and that we could access enough live game data and information through our mobile telephones to keep any statistician happy.
We at the MCG are determined to embrace this societal change and ensure that the MCG remains, as it has in prior generations, at the cutting edge of global stadium design and relevance.
This means things like Wi-Fi systems that work for large crowds; larger and higher definition scoreboards; and hundreds if not thousands of video boards around the ground able to provide useful and real time information to patrons such as queue updates and match data relevant to patrons’ particular interests.
These innovations and many others are under active consideration now by the MCG Trust and the MCC Committee through a detailed feasibility study on a high speed broadband-enabled MCG. In an era where stadium attendance is increasingly competing with the armchair at home, this is an exciting and vital project for the future of the ground.
Of course, the MCG can only be in great shape if the codes that play there are in great shape as well, and this is clearly the case. Over 3 million AFL supporters attended the MCG for the second year running – a phenomenal outcome, especially when it is considered that the average season attendance figures prior to the redevelopment of the Northern Stand was only 2.1 million spectators.
The importance of the ground for the AFL is reflected in the fact that MCG attendances again represented approximately 43% of total AFL attendances for the season.
In cricket, last year’s Test match at the MCG against India created a new record aggregate attendance (189,347) for matches between our two countries.
The most pleasing innovation in the code was the launch of the new domestic T20 Big Bash League competition, which quickly won significant public following.
Other Ground Developments
During the year a statue of Shane Warne was unveiled as the first statue of the Australia Post Avenue of Legends outside the MCG.
It is entirely appropriate that the first statue in this series is of one of Australia’s – and the world’s – greatest all time cricketers, who over many years thrilled crowds with his performances at the MCG. We were delighted to see Shane return to the hallowed turf with the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League.
We were also very pleased to see the removal of live gambling odds during AFL matches at the MCG at the end of the 2011 AFL season, following a stance taken by the Trust and the MCC.
Ground finances continue to be strong with the debt reduction programme running well ahead of projections despite the continued substantial reinvestment in ground improvements.
The Trust’s assets were revalued this year as a part of a regular five-yearly revaluation programme. The Valuer General, who conducted the valuation for the first time, decided upon significant increases in the values of the MCG land and the Yarra Park land, which are reflected in the accounts of the Trust.
The new values reflect the increasing value of the assets for which the Trust is responsible, despite the fact that the values are never likely to be realised.
Trustees and the Melbourne Cricket Club
I thank my fellow MCG Trustees and Executive Officer Graeme Sinclair for their effort and valuable contribution again this year. It is a pleasure to work with them.
Chris Lovell stepped down as a Trustee in November 2011 after nine years of valuable service. We are very grateful for his legal knowledge, judgement and all-round contribution over this time.
I congratulate Tony Stewart on his recent appointment as a Trustee for a three year term. The Trust looks forward to the benefit of his extensive legal and commercial experience.
Finally, congratulations to the MCC management team led by CEO Stephen Gough and the MCC Committee under President Paul Sheahan for their continued highly effective stewardship of the ground.
The partnership between the Trust and the MCC is harmonious and effective, and I believe it serves the interests of all patrons of the MCG and Australian sports lovers very well.
John Wylie AMBack to top
June 30, 2012