AFL eyes 75,000-strong MCG crowd

·3-min read

The MCG could host the biggest sports crowd in the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began with up to 75,000 fans at the MCG for Thursday night's AFL clash between Carlton and Collingwood.

Crowds in Victoria were limited to 50 per cent capacity for round one but from Thursday's match, stadiums can fill to 75 per cent as part of the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions in the state.

"That's (the world's biggest crowd since COVID-19) an exciting prospect," AFL fixture boss Travis Auld told reporters.

"I know in round one, we had the biggest crowd at a sporting event in Australia since the pandemic hit us.

"So that's a big moment in this country, and to increase that further this weekend with a couple of really big games starting this Thursday night will be a wonderful achievement for the people of Melbourne and more broadly for this country.

"... (The) 75,000 (capacity) certainly gives us the capacity to have the largest crowd at a sporting event since COVID has hit."

If attendance for Thursday night's game is even close to capacity, it will comfortably be Australia's biggest sports crowd since 86,174 fans attended the Women's T20 World Cup final at the MCG on March 8, 2020 - days before coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.

Last week's season opener at the MCG hosted the biggest crowd in the southern hemisphere since the pandemic began, with 49,218 fans.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan previously flagged hopes for a full house at the traditional Anzac Day clash - though Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said achieving 100 per cent capacity would be difficult.

"For very large venues, getting 100 per cent is pretty tricky," Professor Sutton said on Tuesday.

"You've got to maintain those hard zones and so you do need that space to be able to have the infrastructure to separate people.

"But we'll continue to review how things are going at 75 per cent."

Auld emphasised the AFL would continue to be guided by state government advice.

"I haven't heard that (Professor Sutton's comments) directly, but I understand if that's the case," Auld said.

"There will be a number of games where we'd utilise that capacity but at 75,000, there's a lot of people who can get to the footy and that caters for a lot of our games.

"So I want to acknowledge the increase that we received today, the impact that has on supporters and a full MCG may not be that far away."

Marvel Stadium's capacity has been lifted to 43,440 fans, while up to 27,819 people are permitted at Friday night's game between Geelong and Brisbane at GMHBA Stadium.

Ballarat's Mars Stadium can now host 8,335 fans.

Meanwhile Auld confirmed the AFL intended to release its next block of "three-to-four weeks" of fixtures next week, after initially releasing a schedule up to round six.