The Australian Football League (AFL) and Victorian State Government have today (Friday) revealed plans to make Marvel Stadium one of the top sports and entertainment destinations in the world through a wide-ranging transformation scheme.

Marvel Stadium, which is owned by the Aussie rules league, will be opened up to the city of Melbourne under the plans, which seek to ensure it becomes a seven-day-a-week community meeting place with a ‘Town Square’ and new cafes, bars and restaurants.

The Victorian Government invested A$225m (£123.7m/€138.3m/$164.1m) to fund the project as part of a landmark agreement with the AFL and the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) in 2018 that secured the state as the home of football.

The arrangement guarantees that the AFL Grand Final will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) until at last 2058, with Marvel Stadium acting as the headquarters of the AFL and the home to Essendon, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Carlton games.

The signature new Town Square plaza will welcome pedestrians arriving on the Bourke Street footbridge from Southern Cross Station – a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces with some stadium walls removed to provide a visual connection to the field of play.

Markets and community gatherings will be hosted in the space while hospitality businesses on two levels will be open to the public and able to be converted to ticketed areas for AFL matches and concerts.

Overlooking Wurundjeri Way, a ‘City Edge’ stadium extension will refurbish public and function areas and provide views back into Melbourne’s CBD. More bicycle parking, a stadium sensory room, changing places facility and improved lighting all feature in the vision set out by architects Grimshaw with Smartform, with the project to go to construction tender next week.

Inside the stadium, fans in the stands will receive renovated food and beverage areas while new video display boards and other technology upgrades will further enhance the stadium experience. Competitors will be supported with upgrades to male and female changing rooms, while home clubs on a match day will be able to fully integrate their branding into the exterior and interior of the new development.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said: “The Marvel Stadium precinct will be one of the best sports and entertainment destinations in the world, with its proximity to the city and a world class entertainment and food offering pre-and post-event.

“The designers have captured our desire to amplify the stadium’s ability to host multiple events across a calendar year and ensure fan experience has been front of mind when designing the upgrade. By renovating the existing structure, it will provide a more environmentally sustainable way of building, as well as ensuring minimal disruption to fans.”

A town planning permit application is due to be lodged with the City of Melbourne shortly. Pending approvals, construction could start in the middle of 2021.

Images: Victorian State Government