Docklands Stadium

Last updated

Docklands Stadium
Marvel Stadium
Marvel Stadium logo.svg
Marvel Stadium during curtain raiser.jpg
Docklands Stadium
Former names
  • Colonial Stadium (2000–2002)
  • Telstra Dome (2002–2009)
  • Etihad Stadium (2009–2018)
Location Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Coordinates 37°48′59″S144°56′51″E / 37.81639°S 144.94750°E / -37.81639; 144.94750
Owner Australian Football League
OperatorAustralian Football League (2020–present)
Melbourne Stadiums Limited (2000–2020)
Capacity 56,347 (venue capacity)
53,343 (seating capacity)
47,000 (cricket [1] [2] and rectangular mode) [3]
Record attendance76,150
(Adele, March 2017)
Field size160 m × 129 m (525 ft × 423 ft) [4]
Broke groundOctober 1997
Opened9 March 2000
Construction cost A$460 million
Architect Populous in association with Daryl Jackson
General contractor Baulderstone Hornibrook
Australian Football League

Essendon Football Club (2000–present)
St Kilda Football Club (2000–present)
Western Bulldogs (2000–present)
North Melbourne Football Club (2000–present)
Carlton Football Club (2005–present)



Melbourne Renegades (BBL; 2011–present)

Melbourne Storm (NRL; 2001, Finals 2006–09, 2010, 2023)
Melbourne Victory (A-League Men; 2006–2021)
Australia men's national soccer team (selected matches)
Australia women's national soccer team (selected matches)
Australia national rugby union team (selected matches)
Australia national rugby league team (selected matches)
Ground information
End names
Lockett End
Coventry End
International information
First ODI16 August 2000:
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia v Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa
Last ODI3 February 2006:
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia v Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa
As of 22 August 2015
Source: ESPNcricinfo

Docklands Stadium, known by naming rights sponsorship as Marvel Stadium, is a multi-purpose sports and entertainment stadium in the suburb of Docklands in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Construction started in October 1997 and was completed in 2000 at a cost of A$460 million ($930 million in 2023 terms [5] ). The stadium features a retractable roof and the ground level seating can be converted from oval to rectangular configuration. [6]

The stadium is primarily used for Australian rules football and was originally built as a replacement for Waverley Park. [6] Offices at the precinct serve as the headquarters of the Australian Football League (AFL) which, since October 2016, has had exclusive ownership of the venue. [7] With a capacity for over 53,000 spectators for sports, it is the second-largest stadium in Melbourne after the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It has hosted a number of other sporting events—including domestic Twenty20 cricket matches, Melbourne Victory soccer home matches, rugby league and rugby union matches, as well as special events and concerts. The precinct is headquarters for the Seven Network's digital broadcast centre and an NAB branch.



Docklands Stadium under construction in December 1998 Docklands Stadium, Melbourne, Christmas 1998.jpg
Docklands Stadium under construction in December 1998

Plans for the stadium were announced in October 1996 as a more centrally located replacement for the much larger but ageing Waverley Park as a headquarters for the Australian Football League. [8] It was built in the Melbourne Docklands to the immediate west of the CBD, a central but largely deserted industrial area which had just begun its own urban renewal project. Construction of the stadium by Baulderstone began in October 1997 under the working name "Victoria Stadium", [9] and was completed ahead of the 2000 AFL season. The stadium was originally developed by the Docklands Stadium Consortium and thereafter controlled by the Seven Network. The remaining leasehold interest in the stadium was sold to James Fielding Funds Management in June 2006 for A$330 million. [10]

The stadium, like Waverley Park, was built primarily for Australian rules football, unlike most grounds of a similar size in Australia which were originally designed for cricket then later developed for football. It was the first Australian rules football stadium built with a retractable roof, which throughout its history has usually been closed for night matches and for wet weather day matches; the roof closure policy for dry weather day matches has varied. It was the first stadium in Australia to have movable seating. All four level-one tiers of the stadium can be moved up to 18 metres forward into a rectangular configuration. Despite this being a key feature of the stadium design, it has rarely been used, due to damage to turf, time to deploy the seats, and a reduced capacity, since the corner bays of the stadium become unavailable in rectangular configuration.


Construction was finished only weeks before the first match, and some scheduled pre-season matches were relocated as a result. [11] The first match to be played at the ground was between Essendon and Port Adelaide, before a crowd of 43,012, on 9 March 2000. Essendon won the match by 94 points, and Michael Long kicked the first goal at the ground. [12] [6] The game was to have been played under the closed roof, but due to technical issues it remained open. Six days later, Barbra Streisand staged the venue's first concert. [13] The stadium's third football game, between Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions on 19 March, was the first to be played under the roof. [11] On 16 August 2000, the world's first indoor One Day International was held at the venue between Australia and South Africa. The first game played in the rectangular configuration was a Melbourne Storm game in July 2001. The first soccer match played was in round 5 2001 of the National Soccer League between South Melbourne FC and Melbourne Knights FC. [14]

From the beginning, the stadium's playing surface was criticised for its slipperiness, hardness and lack of grass coverage, and the increased risk of injury that this causes to players. [15] Maintaining surface quality remains one of the stadium's biggest challenges. [16] The stadium's orientation and highly built-up grandstands mean that the Northern end of the stadium in particular receives only 6 weeks of sunlight a year. Concerts held at the stadium are also usually placed at the Southern end due to the ability for grass to recover more quickly. [17] The entire surface undergoes regular, expensive replacement during the season with turf grown externally, under contract by HG Turf, whereas the responsibility of laying and managing the turf lies with Docklands Stadium management. [18] Since 2007, elaborate heating and lighting to better allow grass to be grown and managed within the stadium have been in use. [17]

The venue was damaged by a thunderstorm in March 2010 during the 2010 Victorian storms. The external roof at Gate 2 caved in, causing damage and flooding inside the entertainment area. That evening's pre-season match between St Kilda and Fremantle was delayed due to WorkSafe inspections, but it still went ahead before a small crowd of 5,000. [19]

Marvel Stadium pictured from above (February 2019) Marvel Stadium from an aerial perspective. Feb 2019.jpg
Marvel Stadium pictured from above (February 2019)

In 2015, LED electronic advertising was added around the perimeter of the ground on level 1 and 2, as well as a strip synthetic turf around the edge of the fence, outside the boundary line. The synthetic strip was narrowed after Brisbane Lions player Michael Close suffered a season ending ACL injury on the uneven surface during a game in 2015. [20] [21]

The stadium became unpopular with many of its tenant clubs, especially St Kilda, North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs, as high operating costs and the high proportion of gate revenues which were paid back to the stadium meant that clubs earned much lower returns for a game at Docklands than they would have earned from the same attendance at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. At least 20,000 spectators were usually required to break even on a game. [22] Those three clubs all received compensation payments from the AFL to balance the weak deals, [23] and sold occasional home matches to small interstate or international venues for greater financial returns than they could earn at Docklands. [24]

The stadium and broader precinct underwent a $225 million redevelopment, funded by the AFL and Victorian Government, between 2021 and 2024. [25] [26] [27] This included two new video screens, which hang underneath the stadium's roof and were installed behind the goal at each end of the stadium ahead of the 2022 AFL season. [26] The rest of the redevelopment upgraded stadium infrastructure, connected the precinct to the Melbourne CBD and opened up access to the Docklands waterfront. [27] [28] The redevelopment was completed in March 2024. [29]


Under the terms of the agreement governing construction and operation of the venue, in 2025 the AFL was to win ownership of the stadium for a nominal $30 fee; [30] but the AFL Commission opted to purchase exclusive ownership of the stadium earlier than this, in October 2016, for approximately $200 million. [7] This purchase left the stadium's tenant AFL clubs millions of dollars better off, as they and the AFL arranged more favourable tenancy agreements; [24] although clubs continue to make more money at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, leading to a push from tenant clubs Carlton, Essendon and St Kilda to reduce their annual matches at the ground. [31] The stadium was eventually integrated into the AFL structure several years later, ending the independent management of the venue by Melbourne Stadiums Limited. [28]

The purchase also soon proved critically important to the AFL's finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was able to leverage its ownership of the stadium in obtaining a $500–600 million line of credit to cover cash flow shortages when the 2020 AFL season was suspended. [32]

Naming rights history

Docklands Stadium being renamed from Etihad Stadium to Marvel Stadium Docklands Stadium being renamed to Marvel Stadium from Etihad Stadium.jpg
Docklands Stadium being renamed from Etihad Stadium to Marvel Stadium

The stadium has never operated under the name 'Docklands Stadium', having been covered by naming rights deals throughout its entire operating history. When it opened, the Colonial State Bank paid $32.5 million for 10 years of naming rights, and the stadium opened as Colonial Stadium. [33] The same year, Commonwealth Bank took over the Colonial State Bank and began to discontinue the brand. Commonwealth then sold the balance of the naming rights contract to Telstra for about $50 million, and the stadium's name was changed to Telstra Dome in October 2002. During this time it was colloquially referred to as "The Dome" – a colloquialism used actively by clubs which were sponsored by rival telecommunications companies (such as Essendon with 3 and Carlton with Optus).

In March 2009, the naming rights transferred to Etihad Airways. [34] The venue became known as Etihad Stadium under a five-year deal, which was later extended to ten years, at a cost estimated at between $5–$8 million per year. [35] [36] This once again caused problems, as the AFL would not initially recognise the new name due to its deal with rival airline Qantas. [37] The league recognised the new name only after further negotiation between the two parties.

In September 2018, the stadium was renamed Marvel Stadium after the stadium operators negotiated an eight-year deal with the Walt Disney Company, the parent company of Marvel Entertainment, to change the naming rights and install a Marvel retail store at the venue. [38]

Stadium features

The ends of the ground, where the AFL goal posts are located, are named after the two leading goalkickers in VFL/AFL history: the northern end is the Lockett End, after Tony Lockett; and the southern end is the Coventry End, after Gordon Coventry. Some clubs informally use alternative names during their home games in place of those to honour their own histories. [41]


Australian rules football

Docklands Stadium prior to an AFL match in May 2024 Marvel Stadium before Hawthorn Hawks vs Brisbane Lions - 26 May 2024.jpg
Docklands Stadium prior to an AFL match in May 2024

As of 2024, five AFL teams have deals in place to play home games at Docklands Stadium: [42]

All Victorian-based AFL teams, including those not listed here, have played some home games at the ground during its history, owing to a contractual requirement between the AFL and the stadium's original owners to stage at least 46 AFL matches per year until 2013, and 40 matches per year thereafter. Geelong and Collingwood both had deals to play around four home matches per year during the 2000s, [11] with the latter playing two home games per year at the ground since 2014. Most other clubs still play one or two home matches there per year to make up the numbers; for example, Richmond have played one home game per year at the ground since 2011 and Hawthorn have played one home game per year at the ground since 2017.

In 2020, to mark 20 years of AFL football at the ground, the AFL named the 20 biggest moments and stories involving games played at the stadium in a video. [44] The top 5 were as follows:

  1. Jason McCartney's AFL return after nearly dying in the 2002 Bali bombings – North Melbourne vs Richmond, Round 11 (6 June), 2003
  2. Lance Franklin completing a 100-goal season in 2008 – Hawthorn vs Carlton, Round 22 (30 August), 2008
  3. Wayne Carey's return to face North Melbourne after his extramarital scandal involving former teammate Anthony Stevens – North Melbourne vs Adelaide, Round 6 (2 May), 2003
  4. James Hird leading a final-quarter comeback with 15 touches and the winning goal – Essendon vs West Coast, Round 3 (10 April), 2004
  5. St Kilda and Geelong facing off after both clubs started the 2009 season 13–0, the latest meeting of unbeaten teams in a season – St Kilda vs Geelong, Round 14 (5 July), 2009


The venue's major summer tenant is Big Bash League side Melbourne Renegades, which has played its home games at the Docklands Stadium since the league's inception in 2011/12. A drop-in pitch is used to facilitate cricket at the venue. At the end of the 2016/17 Big Bash, the stadium was rated the most entertaining venue for T20 cricket in Australia. [45]

In 2016, Chris Gayle of the Renegades and the West Indies tied the record for the fastest T20 half century (12 balls) during the last round of BBL 5 at the ground against the Adelaide Strikers. [46]

Although rare, multiple players have hit the roof during a game, which is 38 metres (125 feet) above the playing surface. [47] For example, in 2018, Perth Scorchers batsman Ashton Turner hit a Dan Christian delivery into the roof; under the BBL rules, such a hit is considered to be six runs, with the ball being considered dead and unable to be caught for the purpose of getting the batsman out. [48]


The first time it was used for soccer was in 2001 between South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights in the NSL. A-League team Melbourne Victory played home matches at the stadium between 2006–07 and 2020–21. Originally, the plan was that the stadium would only be used for games against its biggest rivals, Sydney FC, in the 2006–07 A-League; but after the success of that game, the club shifted permanently from Olympic Park Stadium to Docklands from the 2006–07 season until the 2009–10 season. This gave the stadium its first major summer tenant. After the opening of the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in 2010, the club played only high-drawing games and finals at Docklands, with all other games being played at the new stadium; and as of the 2022–23 season, Victory ceased playing home matches at the stadium. [49] The stadium hosted the 2024 A-Leagues All Stars Games on 24 May 2024, as part of Global Football Week Melbourne.

Rugby league

In the 2001 National Rugby League season, the stadium was the permanent home ground for the Melbourne Storm, but this deal lasted only one year. The club occasionally hosted high-drawing home games and finals at Docklands after that, including their first three home games of the 2010 NRL season while awaiting the completion of their then new home ground AAMI Park. In 2023, the Storm returned to play two games at the ground, while AAMI Park was unavailable in July–August due to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. [50]

Docklands has also hosted interstate and international rugby league games. As Telstra Dome, Docklands hosted its first State of Origin game in 2006 as it hosted the deciding third game. As Etihad Stadium, the stadium also hosted Origin games in 2009 and 2012. The 2012 match attracted 56,021, a new record for rugby league at the stadium. [51]

Other sports

The stadium has been converted to host several other sporting events. In its early years, the stadium was used for off-season one day international cricket matches, but has also held some summer matches, particularly in 2006 when the Melbourne Cricket Ground was unavailable due to preparations for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The venue has also hosted international rugby union – including being Melbourne's venue during the 2003 Rugby World Cup – although the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium now hosts most such games. The venue has hosted international basketball, [52] Rugby 7s at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, [39] a 2002 non-televised WWE [53] [54] live event [55] [56] as part of the WWE Global Warning Tour: Melbourne, the 2015 UFC 193 [57] in front of a then-record UFC attendance of 56,214 fans, [58] a motorcycle speedway event (when it played host to the 2015 Speedway Grand Prix of Australia on a 346 metres (378 yards) long temporary track), and a controversial international darts event in 2015 in which spectators seated on the arena started throwing chairs and furniture. [59]

Non-sports events

Docklands Stadium being used for a RMIT University graduation ceremony in 2022 Docklands Stadium Dec2022.jpg
Docklands Stadium being used for a RMIT University graduation ceremony in 2022

Outside of sporting events, the stadium hosts special events and concerts. Adele holds the record for the largest concert attendance at the stadium, on the Adele Live 2017 tour. Ed Sheeran holds the record for the largest concert series attendance at the stadium, on the Divide World Tour. [60] In November 2023, the stadium was the first in Australia to hold a K-pop concert and the first in Australia to be headlined by a female group, when Twice held their Ready to Be World Tour concert at the stadium. [61]

RMIT University uses the stadium as the site for its graduation ceremonies annually. [62]



A 2008 AFL match at Docklands Stadium AFLmatch.jpg
A 2008 AFL match at Docklands Stadium
Record setting attendance at the 23 May 2012 State of Origin match between Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues Match Attendance Docklands Stadium Melbourne State of Origin.JPG
Record setting attendance at the 23 May 2012 State of Origin match between Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues
UFC6 October 201957,127 UFC 243
Rugby union29 June 201356,771 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia: Australia vs British & Irish Lions
WWE10 August 200256,734 WWE Global Warning Tour: Melbourne
State of Origin23 May 201256,021 2012 State of Origin Game I: Queensland vs New South Wales
A-League18 February 200755,436 2007 A-League Grand Final: Melbourne Victory vs Adelaide United
AFL5 July 200954,444 2009 AFL season: St Kilda vs Geelong
International Football (Womens)28 February 202454,120 2024 Olympics Qualification Playoff 2nd Leg: Australia vs Uzbekistan
International Football (Mens)6 February 200850,969 2010 World Cup Qualification Third Round: Australia vs Qatar
International Rules28 October 200545,428 2005 International Rules Series 2nd Test: Australia vs Ireland
Big Bash League12 January 201844,316 2017–18 Big Bash League Round 7: Melbourne Renegades vs Melbourne Stars
Boxing5 June 202241,129 George Kambosos Jr. vs. Devin Haney
One Day International38,364 Commonwealth Bank Series
NRL23 September 200733,427 2007 NRL Preliminary Final: Melbourne Storm vs Parramatta Eels

AFL records



  • Highest winning percentage: Geelong at 66.50% from 68 wins, 34 losses and one draw
  • Lowest winning percentage: Gold Coast at 27.27% from 9 wins, 24 losses
  • Most wins: St Kilda with 160 wins, 6 draws and 126 losses at 55.82%
  • Highest score: Geelong 35.12 (222) defeated Richmond 9.11 (65), 6 May 2007
  • Lowest score: Adelaide 2.9 (21) defeated by Essendon 11.18 (84), 9 July 2021
  • Highest margin: Geelong (vs Richmond), 157 points, 6 May 2007
  • Highest score in a quarter: Essendon 15.4 (94) vs. Gold Coast 0.1 (1), 1 May 2011

Last updated 28 August 2023. [63]

International cricket

The following table summarises the ODI centuries scored at Docklands.

No.ScorePlayerTeamBallsInns.Opposing teamDateResult
1 Michael Bevan Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 1Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 16 August 2000Won
2 Steve Waugh Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 1Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 16 August 2000Won
3 Adam Gilchrist Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 1 ICC World XI 7 October 2005Won


15 & 17 March 2000 Barbra Streisand 70,000 Timeless Tour
1 December 2002 Red Hot Chili Peppers 21,729 By The Way Tour
28 February 2003 KISS 33,000Recording of Kiss Symphony: Alive IV
20 March 2003 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Rising Tour
10 December 2003 Robbie Williams 57,0272003 Tour
17 December 2005 Green Day 8,439 American Idiot World Tour
18 & 19 November 2006 U2 127,275 Vertigo Tour
17 & 18 December 2006 Robbie Williams 125,274 Close Encounters Tour
13–15 November 2008 André Rieu 38,605Stadium tour with the Johann Strauss Orchestra
20 November 2009 Pearl Jam 45,000 Backspacer Tour
3 March 2010 George Michael 47,000 George Michael Live in Australia
11,13 & 15 February 2010 AC/DC 181,495 Black Ice World Tour
1 & 3 December 2010 U2 105,312 U2 360° Tour
11 December 2010 Bon Jovi/Kid Rock 54,414 Circle Tour
31 December 2010 Armin van Buuren 15,000Armin Only Mirage
1 December 2011 Eminem 61,405 Recovery Tour
13 November 2012 Coldplay 63,378 Mylo Xyloto Tour
5 January 2013 Mariah Carey 46,500One-off performance
5 & 6 March 2013 KISS/Mötley Crüe Monster Tour
7 & 8 December 2013 Bon Jovi 91,505 Because We Can: The Tour
14 December 2013 Taylor Swift 47,257 Red Tour
19 February 2014 Eminem 59,675 Rapture Tour
18 & 19 September 2014 Justin Timberlake 41,777 20/20 Experience World Tour
14 & 15 February 2015 One Direction 59,253 On the Road Again Tour
28 February 2015 Foo Fighters 56,981 Sonic Highways World Tour
6 & 8 December 2015 AC/DC 100,000 Rock or Bust World Tour
12, 13 & 14 February 2016 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 152,673One-off performance
9 & 10 December 2016 Coldplay 109,492 A Head Full of Dreams Tour
10 March 2017 Justin Bieber 54,821 Purpose World Tour
18 & 19 March 2017 Adele 152,300 Adele Live 2017
30 January 2018 Foo Fighters Concrete and Gold Tour
9, 10, 11 & 12 March 2018 Ed Sheeran 256,622 ÷ Tour
26 October 2018 Taylor Swift 63,027 Reputation Stadium Tour
10 November 2018 Usher 51,104 RNB Fridays Live
9 November 2019 Janet Jackson 23,205
15 November 2019 U2 59,726 Joshua Tree Tour 2019
7 & 9 February 2023 Red Hot Chili Peppers 104,535 Red Hot Chili Peppers 2022 Global Stadium Tour
24 & 25 February 2023 Harry Styles 114,829 Love on Tour
21 October 2023 Paul McCartney 52,000 Got Back Tour
4 November 2023 TWICE Ready to Be World Tour
14 November 2023 Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe World Tour
23 & 24 February, 12 & 13 March 2024 Pink 228,000 Summer Carnival tour
30 & 31 October, 2 & 3 November 2024 Coldplay Music of the Spheres World Tour

Transport access

Docklands Stadium is serviced primarily by trains at Southern Cross Station, which is located on the City Loop and is serviced by most major metropolitan and country train and coach lines. The stadium is located on a public pedestrian concourse adjoining the northern end of the station.

The stadium is serviced by several tram routes:

The stadium has a 500-vehicle carpark underneath the field, which is accessible by the public for event days.

The venue appeared in the 2007 film Ghost Rider . Its name, wherever visible, was digitally changed to the SoBe Dome. It can be seen in the video for Jessica Mauboy's single "Running Back", as well as some television shows, such as the Seven Network's City Homicide and Network Ten's Rush .

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