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MCG set to break crowd attendance records
A trio of AFL Premiership fixtures at the MCG this week look set to establish a new record for single-round attendance with more than 200,000 people expected to attend the Australia’s largest stadium in a 48-hour period.
Kicking of the new AFL season begins this weekend, Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) officials suggest that traditional Thursday night season opener between Carlton and Richmond will attract a crowd of 70,000.
On Friday, the Western Bulldogs are expected to attract a crowd of 65,000 when they return to the MCG for the first time since their Grand Final triumph to take on Collingwood.
Saturday evening is expected to attract the biggest crowd of the weekend when a full-strength Essendon take on rivals Hawthorn, for which stadium management predict at least 80,000 in the stands.
In addition to releasing crowd estimations for the three fixtures, the MCC has published a range of advice for those attending the AFL round one blockbusters, “strongly advising” fans to take public transport and arrive early.
Fans are also advised to arrive early with the bag checks and wanding processes that occurred in 2016 to again take place at the MCG entry gates this AFL season.
Express lanes for patrons without bags will also be in operation and fans are strongly encouraged to avoid bringing a bag unless necessary in order to streamline their entry.
MCC Chief Executive Stephen Gough said that the security measures, which are designed to provide additional safety and comfort for patrons, needed to be factored into fans' arrival plans.
Gough stated “we want to ensure everyone is inside the stadium before the first bounce, but these entry processes take time.
"With such large crowds expected, fans will need to be patient and arrive earlier than usual, or risk missing out on the action."
By Sunday evening, when a near sold-out Domain Stadium hosts Fremantle against Geelong, more than 400,000 people could have attended an AFL match over the weekend.
That is expected to smash the current record of 371,212 people set across round 15 in 2013, when two MCG matches - Carlton against Collingwood and Hawthorn versus Geelong - both attracted huge crowds.
Gough added that groundstaff had been working to have the MCG in "pristine condition" for Thursday's opening bounce, explaining “within a mere 48-hour period we are expecting upwards of 230,000 people to pass through the gates, providing a great start to the 2017 season.
Record number will also depend on near capacity crowds in Adelaide and Sydney, and strong showings at two Etihad Stadium fixtures – with St Kilda set to take on Melbourne on Saturday and North Melbourne to play West Coast Eagles on Sunday.
Predictions for the biggest AFL round of all-time
Carlton v Richmond - MCG - 70,000
Collingwood v Western Bulldogs - MCG - 65,000
Sydney v Port Adelaide - SCG - 33,000
St Kilda v Melbourne - Etihad Stadium - 35,000
Gold Coast v Brisbane Lions - Metricon Stadium - 15,000
Essendon v Hawthorn - MCG - 80,000
North Melbourne v West Coast - Etihad Stadium - 27,000
Adelaide v Greater Western Sydney - Adelaide Oval - 42,000
Fremantle v Geelong - Domain Stadium - 34,000
Previous Record: 371,212 set during round 15, 2013.
*Non-MCG crowd estimates sourced using a combination of club and ground estimates, average attendance and previous fixture attendance.
Images; The MCG during the 2016 AFL Grand Final (top) and Richmond fans backing the Tigers (below).
21st March 2017 - ETIHAD STADIUM IN RACE TO HAVE SURFACE READY FOR AFL ROUND ONE
11th March 2017 - MCG LEADS THE TABLE ON F&B PRICING
17th February 2017 - RISING COSTS SEE AFL RECORD $17.8 MILLION LOSS IN 2016
31st January 2017 - 2017 SPORTS FAN SUMMIT RETURNS TO THE MCG
23rd December 2016 - MCC APPOINTS STUART FOX AS NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE
25th August 2016 - AFL 2016 MEMBERSHIP DATA SHOWS HAWTHORN AS THE BEST SUPPORTED CLUB
23rd June 2016 - STEPHEN GOUGH TO RETIRE FROM MELBOURNE CRICKET CLUB
4th May 2016 - BILLION-DOLLAR PLAN TO LINK MCG AND MELBOURNE PARK
2nd March 2015 - MCG WINDS BACK THE CLOCK ON FOOD PRICES
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