Eddie McGuire's eye-opening call amid dramas surrounding MCG surface
The former Collingwood president's MCG proposal is sure to turn a few heads.
Eddie McGuire has proposed a radical redevelopment of the MCG, in the wake of concerns around the state of the hallowed turf for the opening round of the AFL season. Geelong coach Chris Scott kicked off a heated debate after relaying concerns from his players about the MCG surface, following his side's round one defeat to fierce rivals, Collingwood.
The iconic venue was forced to undergo a $1 million facelift just a week before the AFL season kicked off. That came after more than 215,000 people attended two Ed Sheeran concerts at the MCG, resulting in the costly refurbishment of the playing surface.
'COWARDLY': Mark Robinson singles out Buddy Franklin in fiery spray
'EMBARRASSING': Luke Hodge rips former club over insipid display
'REALLY POOR': Hawthorn under fire over ugly scenes in thrashing
Wet weather in Melbourne compounded the extraordinary foot traffic the ground was subjected to, leaving players to bemoan the patchy nature of the surface. “I’m relaying this - and I‘ve got an opinion I’m going to keep to myself - but the issue is that there are differences on the ground now,” Scott said in his post-game press conference. “Some bits that are really firm and you can keep your feet and other bits that are really soft and you can’t keep your feet."
Scott described it as an "own goal" that the AFL would allow its biggest and best ground to be compromised just one week out from the start of the season. Speaking on Nine's 'Eddie and Jimmy podcast', McGuire and Jimmy Bartel countered Scott's comments by arguing that the MCG is a multi-purpose venue, not just the AFL's most iconic stadium.
" People go, 'The MCC's kicked an own goal because they had Ed Sheeran'," Bartel said. "But the counter to that is, 'What's the alternative? They've got to make money, it's a stadium, it's an all-year-around stadium, it's there for cricket, it's there for other sports. What else are they supposed to do?'."
Eddie McGuire wants a roof on the MCG
McGuire said the simple answer was that the MCG needs a roof. The former Collingwood president revealed he has been pushing for the famous stadium to undergo a massive development that will protect it from the elements.
"Put a roof on it," McGuire said. "That's what they need to do. It's as simple as that. There's no problem with that and I'm pushing for it .
"You might have seen last week ... Sir Rod Eddington, who was the former chair of Visit Victoria and Victorian Major Events ... He's the best guy on infrastructure going around ... Basically what he said was, 'We have to be careful now with the economy tightening that we don't (settle for) near enough being good enough'.
"So the next phase of the MCG is the rebuild of the Southern Stand, and one of the things I'm very, very, very keen on is having a retractable roof on the MCG, or a sliding roof."
McGuire used NFL powerhouse the Miami Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium as a reference point for the undertaking he's proposing for the MCG. The Hard Rock Stadium implemented an "open-air canopy" style roof that was designed to protect patrons from Florida's extreme heat, rain and hurricanes. McGuire said the reality is that as Australia's largest multi-purpose venue, it's high time for the MCG to do likewise.
"It wasn't so much the crowd at Ed Sheeran; it was the fact that it rained after the crowd left a couple of days later," McGuire added. "We got through the (Women's T20) World Cup of 2020 by about two hours before the rain came through.
"You're not going to get people sitting there for eight hours in the sunshine. The players in 10 years' time won't want to play at that time... And similarly with the football, we don't want to have the situation where it's the middle of July and the rain's coming in sideways and you can't go to the footy.
"It's pretty simple; all around the world they're putting roofs on these things — and that's the answer. You don't get Ed Sheeran, you don't get Billy Joel to do a one-off concert unless it's at the MCG, where they can put 108,000 in there."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.