AFL makes big call on Melbourne crowds
The opening match of the AFL season is set to see 50,000 fans hit the MCG after a relaxing of restrictions from the Victorian government.
Both the MCG and Marvel Stadium will be allowed to boast 50 per cent capacity crowds, the largest crowd allowances at a sporting event in the state since the COVID pandemic first hit last year.
That means 50,000 patrons will be allowed in for opening night of the 2021 season as reigning premiers Richmond host Carlton in the traditional Round 1 blockbuster.
It will be a far cry from the empty stands players were forced to play in front of when they opened the season last year.
Marvel Stadium will be able to host up to 28,961 fans from Thursday March 4, the same day Carlton and St Kilda face off in a pre-season clash at the venue.
It is the first time fans have been able to attend footy games in Melbourne since the 2019 AFL grand final. No AFL footy has been played in Melbourne since Round 5 of the 2020 season when games were played in empty stadiums.
AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said it was great news for clubs and fans on the eve of the season.
"On behalf of the AFL I would like to thank the Victorian State Government, specifically Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula and Minister for Health Martin Foley for working with us in allowing fans to get back to the footy," McLachlan said.
"Footy fans in Victoria have been excited about getting back to matches and we have seen that with great numbers across the opening rounds of the AFLW season.
"We haven't had footy crowds this big in Victoria since the match to support Bushfire Relief in February last year, so today's announcement provides a big boost for our players and fans in the lead-up to the season.
"Our team has been working extensively behind the scenes planning for multiple scenarios and all our venues will be ready to welcome fans back into the stands come next month."
Crowd capacity's for GMHBA Stadium in Geelong and Mars Stadium in Ballarat are currently being worked through with an announcement shortly.
Originally published as AFL makes big call on Melbourne crowds