The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has banned on-site parking during major events in a move designed to prevent vehicle attacks on pedestrians in the vicinity of the stadium.
The stadium, which has a capacity of 100,000, introduced similar restrictions during the recent Ashes Test between Australia and England, and has now detailed a host of upcoming events that will not feature on-site parking.
The first event will be the Richmond v Carlton AFL match on March 22, while the restrictions will also be in place during other AFL and rugby league events between now and September.
The MCG said the decision has been made following consultation with stakeholders and local authorities around the need for a greater distance between vehicles and pedestrians in the Yarra Park complex and the MCG concourse.
At other events, subject to weather and the condition of the park, an 80-metre exclusion zone will be in operation between vehicles and the stadium. This will reduce car parking availability to about two-thirds of capacity – approximately 2,000 vehicles.
During major event days, a limited number of spaces will be available for disability permit holders, emergency services personnel, accredited media and authorised passholders, subject to capacity.
Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive, Stuart Fox, said: “Ongoing events both around the world and closer to home clearly demonstrate that we need to minimise the risk of interactions between vehicles and pedestrians, especially in crowded places such as outside the MCG.
“The safety of all MCG visitors is our number one priority, and this update to car parking availability in Yarra Park is a natural progression of the measures that have been implemented both at the MCG and other venues in recent years.
“Finding a balance between keeping our patrons safe and providing them with a fantastic event experience is a difficult task. We understand that some patrons will be impacted by this decision and we have made arrangements to cater for as many vehicles as possible, in particular for the mobility-impaired.
“Our strong advice to footy fans is to take public transport to the MCG if possible, or find alternative parking in the CBD and surrounding areas.”
Melbourne has suffered two recent vehicle attacks, although police insist neither were terror-related. An elderly man was killed when an SUV drove into a crowd of pedestrians in the city in December, while six people were killed in January 2017 during a similar attack. The Reuters news agency notes that 140 concrete bollards were installed in the city centre following the January attack.