On Friday night at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the city of Melbourne proved beyond doubt why it should host the 2015 Cricket World Cup final.
A crowd of 62,275 attended the Twenty20 international between Australia and India, eclipsing the 59,659 that attended ANZ Stadium the preceding Wednesday, albeit in rainy conditions.
Sydney’s was the biggest crowd to ever attend a day of cricket in New South Wales. The MCG, on the other hand, has never had a T20 crowd under that figure.
Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia, and arguably the world. If the final were to be played in Sydney, we would know that the decision came down to opportunities provided to tourism marketing, via the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge in Sydney.
Big crowds in Melbourne are routine. There is also more scope for them. The MCG has a seating capacity of 100,018, compared to ANZ Stadium’s 83,500.
When Australia last hosted the World Cup in 1992, the MCG did host the final. The Great Southern Stand was actually constructed for that tournament. 87,182 packed out the ground for an England versus Pakistan match, won by Imran Khan’s ‘cornered tigers’. It was a spectacular turnout for a neutral match.
Sydneysiders are unfortunately notorious for not turning up in big numbers to sporting events. The highest NRL regular season crowd for a match in Sydney last season was 34,976, in Round 7 at the Sydney Football Stadium between Sydney and the Dragons. Compare this to the AFL’s highest Melbourne crowd of 89,626 at the MCG on ANZAC Day.
It is well known that ODI crowds are in decline around the worldwide, with people, and particularly younger families, prefering the shortest version of the game where possible. Will Australia’s impressive Test performances boost crowds when Australia take on India and Sri Lanka in the upcoming triangular series?
The MCG hosted the first ever Test match in 1877, and the first ever ODI in 1971. It has the historical case, and by far the largest stadium capacity in Australia. Surely then, it should be obvious that Melbourne should host the World Cup final?