Sports

MCG set for 50,000 fans for AFL season opener as crowd capacity increased


AFL powerhouse Richmond will unfurl two premiership flags in front of 50,000 people at the MCG with the Victorian government increasing the capacity of spectator numbers at sporting events.

The Tigers, who have won the last two AFL premierships, will play in front of a crowd in Victoria for the first time since their 2019 grand final triumph when they battle Carlton in round one on 18 March.

It will be the biggest crowd at an event in Victoria since 86,174 people watched the women’s Twenty20 World Cup final at the MCG last March, which took place only days before the Covid-19 pandemic first changed the way of life in Australia.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has thanked Victorian premier Daniel Andrews for allowing fans back to the football.

“Footy fans in Victoria have been excited about getting back to matches and we have seen that with great numbers across the opening rounds of the AFLW season,” McLachlan said.

“We haven’t had footy crowds this big in Victoria since the match to support bushfire relief in February last year, so this announcement provides a big boost for our players and fans.

“Our team has been working extensively behind the scenes planning for multiple scenarios and all our venues will be ready to welcome fans back into the stands come next month.”

Andrews has also announced up to 28,961 patrons – 50% of capacity – will be able to attend Marvel Stadium, starting from Thursday night’s pre-season match between Carlton and St Kilda. A figure for Geelong’s GMHBA Stadium will be confirmed in coming days, along with how fans access tickets to all AFL games.

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“This is great news as the AFL season is obviously starting quite soon and it will be something approaching normal, which is something Victorians have absolutely earned,” Andrews said.

Victoria will return to its Covid summer settings after battling its recent coronavirus break which forced the state into a five-day lockdown midway through the Australian Open.



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