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MCG the outlier as Cricket Australia plans full capacity for Ashes

Cricket Australia (CA) has today (Wednesday) announced that stadia will be sold to full capacity for the 2021-22 Ashes series, with the exception of Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) which will have an initial capacity of 85%.

CA today released ticketing plans for the Australian cricket summer after last month confirming the schedule for the Ashes series against England, with Perth’s Optus Stadium replacing Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) as the venue for the final Test.

Having opened in January 2018, Optus Stadium has only held two Test matches – against India in December 2018 and a day-night fixture with New Zealand in December 2019. The 60,000-seat venue has replaced the WACA Ground as Perth’s stadium for major cricket events, with the WACA set to be transformed into a “boutique venue”.

The SCG has held the final Ashes Test for the past two decades, but it will now stage the fourth Test. Australia will begin its Ashes defence at the Gabba in Brisbane from December 8-12 ahead of a day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval from December 16-20. The traditional Boxing Day and New Years’ Tests will be played at the MCG (December 26-30) and SCG (January 5-9) respectively, with the final Test scheduled for Optus Stadium (January 14-18).

In addition to the Ashes series, the Australian men’s team will also host Afghanistan for a Test for the first time ever at Blundstone Arena in Bellerive, Tasmania from November 27, before finishing with nine one-day international and Twenty20 matches against New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

CA had previously been planning for full capacity across all venues, but has now revised this amid the shifting COVID-19 situation in Australia. Nearly half the country’s population – more than 12 million people – are currently under stay-at-home orders in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Alice Springs, Darwin, Townsville and the Gold Coast.

CA today said all venues will be sold to 100% capacity, except for the Boxing Day Test at the vast MCG (pictured), which will have an initial capacity of 85%. Tickets will be fully refunded if any venue is required to reduce capacity due to the ongoing pandemic.

With a seating capacity of 100,024, the MCG is Australia’s largest sports stadium and is currently operating under government guidelines in the state of Victoria. Outdoor stadia in Victoria are currently permitted 50% capacity up to a maximum of 25,000 people. On July 1, this is set to rise to 85% capacity.

Tickets for the Australian cricket summer are set to go on public sale on July 5. For the sixth straight year, entry level ticket prices for men’s internationals remain the same. Adult tickets start at A$30 (£16/€19/$22), plus a maximum A$7.45 transaction fee.

Tickets to the women’s game continue to be more accessible, with all individual tickets under A$30, and family tickets starting at A$43, plus a maximum A$7.45 transaction fee. Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s CEO, said today: “The 2021-22 summer of international cricket promises to be one of the biggest ever.

“The anticipation around both the men’s and women’s Ashes is building, especially as we have witnessed some incredible Test cricket in the UK. The Ashes rivalry is one of the biggest in world sport, and we hope that conditions will allow as many fans as possible to attend.

“We continue to work closely with venues and governments across Australia to ensure that events are held safely and greatly appreciate their support. In the event that capacities are reduced due to government restrictions associated with the pandemic, we of course guarantee fans full refunds.”

Image: Rodger Wang on Unsplash