If a substantial but unroofed concrete stand and an open wooden stand are counted, there have been 18 grandstands erected at the MCG since the first Members Pavilion of 1854. From early photographs this appeared to have a seating capacity of about 60.A more substantial edifice for the members was built in 1881. It was extended in 1886 at a cost of just under £6000 and demolished in 1927 to make way for the Third Members Pavilion, which was completed in 1928 at a cost of £60,000.
The first grandstand on the MCG’s northern side was built in 1876 but was destroyed by fire eight years later.
A fine new structure, which came to be known simply as “The Grandstand”, replaced it. This stand catered for 450 members and 4500 public patrons. Another deck, added in 1897, doubled capacity.
It was demolished in 1955 for the Northern (later Olympic) Stand which had a capacity of 43,200 before a series of modifications from 1984 reduced standing room and some seating areas to accommodate dining rooms, corporate suites and a second scoreboard.
To the western end of the stadium was the Grey Smith Stand (1906) which was demolished in 1966 for building of the Western (later WH Ponsford) Stand.
The Harrison Stand (1908) and Wardill Stand (1912) made way for the 1936-37 construction of the Southern Stand, a huge project which accommodated 48,000 spectators, 18,200 of whom were seated under cover. This stand saw an explosion in attendances as a sports-hungry population emerged from the Depression years.
Its eventual replacement, the Great Southern Stand of 1991-92 and boasting a similar capacity, has had an even bigger impact with superb sightlines, comfortable seating and provision for public and corporate dining and entertainment facilities.
This $150 million project was completed on time and below budget and, despite many site difficulties, only one football grand final had to be transferred away from the stadium and no major cricket fixtures were forfeited during the construction period.
In late-2002, work commenced on demolition of the Ponsford and Olympic Stands, along with the Members Pavilion, to make way for three new conjoined grandstands that encompass the entire northern side of the stadium.
Complete with improved sightlines, amenities and comfort, the redevelopment was completed in time for the Commonwealth Games in March, 2006.