AAMI Park is Melbourne’s premier rectangular sports and entertainment venue. The 30,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium is a long-overdue addition to the sporting landscape in Melbourne, with mid-range sporting events previously held next door at the out-dated Olympic Park.
Situated within the Melbourne sports precinct along with the MCG, Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena, the venue is operated by the Melbourne Olympic Parks Trust (MOPT). Opened in May 2010, AAMI Park has an all-seating capacity of 30,050 and offers an intimate atmosphere with not a single bad seat in the house.
The stadium is ideal for all rectangular sports and is the home ground of the Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart Football Club’s (A-League), Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club (NRL) and the new Melbourne Rebels franchise set to play in the Super 15 Rugby Union competition. It also plays host to Rugby League internationals and is sure to host other football and rugby union clashes.
There are a number of ways to access the venue. Located on Olympic Boulevard (Swan Street), it’s just a short walk from Richmond train station while there is a tram stop right out the front. There is limited car parking available at the venue however the MCG car park is usually open for most events. The MCG footbridge connects AAMI Park to the other side of the train lines.
Plans for the new stadium were originally conceived when Melbourne bid for a new Super 12 franchise. Upon being beaten by Perth, it didn’t take long for the plans to re-emerge. In April 2006, the Victorian Government announced a new 20,000-seat stadium would be built at Olympic Park to host Rugby League and Football. Melbourne Victory, who’s A-League crowds were averaging significantly higher than that figure, pushed for the capacity to be increased. While delaying construction of the venue, it’s capacity was eventually increased to just over 30,000.
Construction commenced in late 2007 on the site of Edwin Flack Field. The common name for the new venue was simply “Melbourne Rectangular Stadium” until an 8-year naming rights sponsorship deal was struck with insurance company AAMI just prior to its opening.
AAMI Park officially opened its doors on 7th May 2010, hosting the Rugby League ANZAC Test Match between Australia and New Zealand. The game attracted a near sell-out crowd of 29,442. Unfortunately some aspects of the venue weren’t quite finished and torrential rain caused several sections of the roof to leak on the opening night.
Facilities at the venue also include 24 18-seat corporate boxes plus external seating, a 1000-capacity dining room, 14 bars, an elite training centre, gymnasium, lap pool and office space for tenant clubs. There are two video screens situated in opposite corners while the pitch measures 136 × 82 metres.
As well as the Victory, Storm and Rebels, the Melbourne Demons Football Club (AFL) also have their training and administrative base at the venue, training on the adjacent sporting field.
Built at a cost of $267.5 million, AAMI Stadium features a distinctive cutting-edge Bioframe design with a geodesic dome roof which substantially covers the seating area. The design enables spectators to enjoy unobstructed views, free from pillars, walls or other support structures. This design required 50 per cent less steel than a typical stadium roof of the same size. Located on the exterior of the roof is a LED lighting system that enables the stadium to display numerous patterns and colours.