MCG sets pandemic record as 78,000 fans attend AFL match

Melbourne Cricket Ground has set a new record attendance for a sporting event in the COVID-19 era after more than 78,000 fans watched yesterday’s (Sunday’s) AFL match between Collingwood and Essendon.

The MCG, which has a capacity of 100,000, was last week given the green light to welcome up to 85,000 fans at the weekend as COVID-19 restrictions were eased by the state government in Victoria.

Although the attendance fell short of the capacity limit, the 78,113 figure still surpassed the previous pandemic record of around 66,000, which was set during last month’s Twenty20 cricket match between India and England at Narendra Modi Stadium.

Prior to yesterday’s match, the biggest AFL crowd at the MCG so far this season was 51,723, despite the capacity limit having been set at 75%. It remains to be seen when the state government and health authorities will be willing to reopen venues at full capacity.

The 78,113 record set by the MCG could be shattered next month at the Indy 500 motorsport event in Indianapolis. Last week, plans were announced to welcome around 135,000 fans to the May 30 event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the largest sporting facility in the world.

The track has more than 250,000 seats and can host almost 400,000 fans on event days throughout the site. The venue is set to open at 40% capacity for this year’s Indy 500 following consultation with state and local health officials.

Meanwhile, a capacity crowd of more than 50,000 attended the first-ever music concert at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday. Rock group SIX60 was the main attraction as the rugby venue hosted the biggest music concert since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.

Full details of the concert can be found on our sister site TheTicketingBusiness.com.

In other news, the roadmap for the wider return of fans in England took its latest step yesterday as 7,773 fans attended the Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium.

The final, which City won 1-0, was one of several test events announced to trial the return of fans in England and followed the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton on April 18, when 4,000 supporters were in attendance.

The next football match lined up as a test event is the FA Cup final between Leicester and Chelsea on May 15, when up to 21,000 fans are set to be in attendance. The match will take place two days before restrictions are eased to allow up to 10,000 fans across English sports stadiums in time for the final weekend of the Premier League season.

The ongoing World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield is also serving as a fan pilot event and there are plans for the venue to open at full capacity for the final, which takes place on May 2-3.

Image: MCG