Turf works begin in readiness for AFL
Mar 13, 2013
Arena staff have started transforming the MCG from cricket to football mode as we wait to see whether the Victorian Bushrangers will host the Sheffield Shield Final at the 'G, beginning on March 22.
Seven portable pitches have been removed from the centre, with the first AFL match scheduled for March 28.
The Bushrangers are on top of the Sheffield Shield ladder and today commenced their final, must-win match against Tasmania in Hobart. See live scores
The Shield Final is scheduled to run to five days, meaning it will end on March 26. The MCG's first AFL match of the year is two days later on the night of March 28 between Carlton and Richmond.
The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), stadium manager at the MCG, is preparing to host the final. On Monday night, seven of the 10 portable pitches were removed from the arena, replaced by sand and turf in readiness for AFL action.
"Although there are only two days between the final and the first football game, we won't be leaving everything until the last minute," said MCC communications manager Shane Brown. "We'll be doing what we can to make it easier for us.
"There is a lot involved in getting the ground ready."
Portable pitch removal includes the MCC getting a permit from VicRoads to close Brunton Avenue overnight to allow access for equipment to move them back to their winter home in Yarra Park.
Three or four pitches can be moved in one night, which gives arena staff enough time to shift the remaining pitches if the Bushrangers host the final and play to five days.
Sight screens will also have to be removed, lines painted, goal posts installed and the dressing rooms converted from cricket to football, leaving staff with an interesting challenge.
Each pitch weighs 30 tonnes, with the machine required to move it weighing the same.
"This will be the shortest turnaround in recent times," Brown said. "We've known the fixture for many months and the possibility of this happening.
"We are ready and our plans are in place should we host the final. We're backing the Bushrangers to make the final and we are preparing that way.
"I think it will be great. It will show off our versatility to host a cricket final and three footy matches in the same weel. Anybody who visits or uses the ground won't know any different.
"It's a good challenge."
The AFL is unconcerned about the short turnaround between the cricket and football seasons at the MCG.
"Our view is that the MCG is a world class stadium and they'll be able to turn it into a football stadium in time for round one," AFL spokesperson Patrick Keane told afl.com.au.