A Sports Fans Guide To Melbourne

The most popular sports are Australian rules football, rugby league and cricket.

Photo by Flickered, CC BY-SA 4.0

Australia is a nation of sports fans. More than 50% of the country’s population regularly takes part in a form of non-organised sport (such as going to the gym). Additionally, about a quarter of the country regularly takes part in organised sports, like playing on a sports team, with most of these doing so at least twice every week. In addition to partaking in sport, Australians also love to watch it.

On average, they consume around 8.5 hours of sports through online streaming services each week. The most popular sports are Australian rules football, rugby league and cricket, with major leagues for each of them. Melbourne is certainly not an exception to this rule; the people of Melbourne love their sport just as much as any other Australian, and you can see that when you visit their city. If you’re in Melbourne and you are a sports fan, there is plenty to keep you busy. Here are some of the things you can do.

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Originally built in 1853, Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of the most famous sports venues in the whole of Australia. It is the 10th largest sports stadium in the world, it has the largest spectator capacity of any cricket ground, and it is the largest sports venue in the Southern Hemisphere.

Don’t let the name confuse you, though. It is not only the home of a cricket team; it is actually the home of four cricket teams (the Australian national cricket team, Victoria cricket team, and the Melbourne Stars’ BBL and WBBL teams). Four Australian rules football teams are also based there: Melbourne, Richmond, Collingwood, and Hawthorn. The stadium hosts the annual Grand Final of the Australian Football League, which is the world’s most attended league championship event.

If you aren’t able to make it on game day, it’s still worth checking out. The ground forms part of the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct, which contains the Olympic Park, Melbourne Park and Yarra Park, each of which includes a number of different stadia and sports facilities, as well as the National Sports Museum. As the name would suggest, the Olympic Park was used to host the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Horse Racing

Australians also love their horse racing—so much so that the day of the Melbourne Cup is classified as an official public holiday in the state of Victoria. Those elsewhere in the country also come to a halt to watch the race, including workers, students, and those on public transport. It is bigger than the Kentucky Derby in the United States and the Grand National in the United Kingdom.

The Melbourne Cup is not the only famous race in Australia; Springtime is packed with legendary races. One of these many races is the Caulfield Cup, which is held each October at the Caulfield Racecourse. It is a flat race for thoroughbred horses organised by the Melbourne Racing Club.

There are a number of race courses around Melbourne, although perhaps the most famous is the Flemington Racecourse. Getting there is easy; it has its own train station with trains operating on every race day (trains to the racecourse depart from Flinders Street Station). Access by tram is easy, too. Just take the number 57 and get off at the Epsom Road entrance, where you can get a shuttle bus right to the main turnstiles.

Melbourne Rectangular Stadium

Melbourne Stadium
Photo by Snapcha, CC BY-SA 4.0

At first, it may seem like the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium has a strange name. However, it makes perfect sense when you consider that the city’s other stadia, including Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Docklands Stadium, are oval in size. Australian rules football, unlike other variations of football, uses an oval pitch, and therefore requires a stadium to be shaped in the same way.

The rectangular stadium, which is officially called AAMI Park, is the home of three rugby teams (Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Rebels, and Melbourne Rising) and two soccer teams (Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory). It was opened in 2010 and has a capacity of around 30,000 spectators, which is just one-third of the capacity at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Unlike in many other cities, the stadium is located right in the city centre within the Sports and Entertainment Precinct.

Sports Bars

It can be fun to watch the game at the stadium, but if you prefer watching games from a sports bar, there are plenty of options in Melbourne. These include:

  • The Imperial: This is one of the oldest sports bars in Melbourne, boasting a spectacular rooftop bar and just about every sport on show. The Imperial’s philosophy is that if someone’s playing it, we should be watching it. To accompany your sports watching, The Imperial has an extensive range of English food and drink options.
  • The Great Northern: One of the best sports bars in the city. Showing AFL, UFC, rugby union, soccer, NFL, NRL and more on their 10 high-definition screens, you’ll be sure to find the game you want to watch. Even if the game is on during the middle of the night, the Great Northern will be open to help you get your sports fix.
  • Turf Bar: Here you will find a bustling atmosphere with a warm and welcoming feel. It has a great central location on Queen Street and offers a wide selection of food and drinks that’ll keep you satisfied during the big game.

Australia loves sports, and Melbourne is the ultimate embodiment of this. It is packed with top flight teams, some spectacular stadia and a whole sports district. Whether you enjoy soccer, rugby, cricket, or Australian rules football, you’ll certainly have plenty to keep you busy. Horse racing is so popular that it literally stops the city—where else in the world can you say that? Melbourne is a fantastic city to visit, especially if you are a sports fan. If you aren’t in the city for any big games, you can still visit the stadia to get a feel of their grandeur and admire their size.

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