Australian Football, or Aussie Rules combines elements of soccer and rugby to produce an entertaining sport for fans, especially down under. Aussie Rules is the most fan-attended and viewed sport in the country, beating off popular codes such as cricket and rugby league. The Australian Football League (AFL) is also the wealthiest sporting body because of its soaring popularity.
There are over 130 AFL stadiums across Australia with varying capacities. They’re located throughout the States in urban and suburban areas. While the majority have small capacities, some stadiums can host thousands of people. We’ll take you through some of the biggest you can find down under.
- Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG)- 48,000
Sydney Cricket Ground was built in 1986 and is one of Australia’s premier sports and entertainment venues. It was redeveloped in 2013 and now comfortably fits 48,000 fans. The stadium is primarily used for cricket, rugby, and AFL. Several teams call the SCG home, including the Sydney Sixers on the cricketing front, the NSW Waratahs for rugby, and the Sydney Swans for AFL.
The SCG boasts one of the country’s largest video screens, which is why it is usually reserved for the New Year’s cricket test match. The record attendance at the SCG was in 2017, when 46,323 people packed in for the AFL finals between the Swans and Essendon.
- Adelaide Oval – 53,583
Located in South Australia, the Adelaide Oval is also a traditional cricket stadium that the AFL uses. The stadium opened in 1871, making it one of the oldest in the country. However, in 2009, the local government decided to inject money into making the Adelaide Oval a world-class stadium. They completed another upgrade in 2014 to increase the capacity to 53,583 and make it one of the best multi-purpose stadiums around.
AFL teams Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide host their home games at the new stadium, moving from Football Park at Westlakes. Apart from hosting AFL matches, the Adelaide Strikers use the stadium as their home base for the Big Bash League.
- Marvel Stadium – 55,000
The Marvel Stadium is the third largest AFL venue in the country. It’s located in Melbourne and was developed in 1997. The stadium has undergone several naming sponsorships resulting in name changes. It started as the Colonial Stadium, then became the Telstra Dome in 2002, the Etihad Stadium in 2009 and the Marvel Stadium in 2018.
Apart from the great capacity, the stadium boasts several world-class features, such as the retractable roof that guarantees perfect playing conditions for the AFL. The roof takes 20 minutes to retract, and the lower-tier seating can be modified to suit certain events. The venue is home to A-League Melbourne Victory, the Big Bash’s Melbourne Renegades, and several AFL teams, including Essendon FC, St Kilda FC, Western Bulldogs FC, North Melbourne FC, and Carlton FC.
- Optus Stadium – 60,000
Also known as Perth Stadium, this venue is Western Australia’s contribution to world-class multi-purpose stadiums. It hosts concerts, cricket, soccer, and AFL matches. The venue is fairly new, having opened in 2018, but it considers the fans primarily as 85% of its permanent seats are under the drip line.
The venue boasts two large screens ideal for the home fans of AFL teams West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers as well as local cricket side the Perth Scorchers. The highest recorded AFL crowd is 61,118 for the 2021 AFL Grand Final between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs.
Optus bought the naming rights of the stadium before it opened its doors, and it will remain in place for at least the next ten years.
- Melbourne Cricket Ground – 100,024
There’s little doubt that the MCG is Australia’s greatest sporting venue, with a capacity of 100,000. The ‘G’ underwent some renovations in 2006 that enhanced its reputation as one of the best modern-day amphitheatres. The stadium was built in 1853 and is among the top ten largest venues worldwide while being the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. This venue is treasured so much that it made a list for Australian National Heritage in 2005.
Several events have been held at the MCG, including the 1956 Olympic Games and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. It previously hosted the 1992 & 2015 Cricket World Cup Finals, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, and Rugby Union Bledisloe Cup, and annually entertains fans at the traditional Boxing Day test match and the AFL Grand Final.
The record attendance at the MCG is 100,021 fans at the 2017 AFL Grand Final involving Richmond & Adelaide. However, that record was broken on the 24th of September 2022, when there was a total of 100,024 fans watching the Geelong Cats versus the Sydney Swans in the AFL Grand Final. The stadium currently has two of the country’s largest screens – LED high-definition scoreboards.