Melbourne Cricket Ground - Let there be light: 25 years of MCG night sport
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Let there be light: 25 years of MCG night sport

Feb 17, 2010

The MCG light towers, circa 1985Australia’s iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has notched up another milestone, with today marking 25 years since the first sporting event was played under the MCG’s famous light towers. 

The MCG light towers were first used for an event on February 17, 1985 for a Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket match between Australia and England.

Those present witnessed Australian pair Robbie Kerr (87 not out) and Dean Jones (78 not out) produce an unbeaten fourth wicket partnership of 157, still an MCG record, as the home side won by seven wickets.

The famous MCG light towersView today's Herald Sun report on events of the time.

Since that heady day, the MCG’s six light towers – which at 85 metres high are each equivalent to a 24-storey building – have helped cement Melbourne’s reputation as a thriving major events city.

Hundreds of AFL, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, soccer and concert events have been staged under the lights in front of millions of patrons.

“The MCG light towers are a central piece of Melbourne’s sporting landscape and have played an important role in the development and popularity of night sport in this city,” said Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive officer Stephen Gough.

“Everyone has their own personal recollection of memorable sporting and concert moments at night at the MCG.”

The MCG light towers were recognised for their cultural significance in 2006 when they were placed on the Victorian Heritage List.  The construction of the towers was a joint initiative between the MCC and Cricket Victoria and came at a cost of approximately $4.9 million.

“Although cricket had been played under lights in Australia before, the MCG set a new benchmark in lighting quality for international cricket that still holds up 25 years later,” said Cricket Victoria chief executive officer Tony Dodemaide. 

“That match in February 1985 paved the way for a whole new era and the fact that night Test matches are even being debated today owes much to the MCG lights.”

Dean Jones and Robbie Kerr after their record partnership in the first match under lights at the MCG.

ABOUT THE MCG LIGHT TOWERS

• The MCG was first lit up on December 3, 1984 at 9.30pm by then State Premier and MCG Trustee the Honourable John Cain. A group of MCC cricketers trialled the lights in a short hit-out before the all clear was given for Allan Border’s Australians and David Gower’s Englishmen to do battle.

• The foundations for the towers consist of four reinforced concrete piers which are set down in depth from seven to 12 metres depending on the sub surface structure.

• Each of the hollow tubular steel towers contains about 130 tonnes of steel.

• The diameter reduces from 4.2 metres at the base to two metres at the top.

• There are between 12 and 14 landings connecting ladders inside each tower.

• The head frames of the towers are angled in at 15 degrees to provide optimum levels of light.

• Each light tower has an average of 140 no. 2KW (2000-Watt) Metal Halide lamps within the head frame.

• The lamps have an effective life of approximately 5000 running hours and about 30 lamps on average are replaced each year.

• The lights take approximately 10 minutes to become fully illuminated. If the lights are turned off they cannot be turned back on for another 15 minutes as they require time to cool down and warm up.

 

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