A record State of Origin crowd of 91,513 attended game two of the 2015 series on Wednesday evening at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It’s the second largest attendance at Australia’s biggest stadium this year with the Cricket World Cup Final attracting 93,013 back on the 29th of March.
The crowd figure eclipsed the previous record of 88,336 set in 1999 at ANZ Stadium (when the Olympic Stadium had a capacity of close to 110,000). The MCG has hosted Origin on four occasions with the first game in 1994 attracting a then-record crowd of 87,161. In total, eight Origin matches have been staged in Melbourne with one game at the old Olympic Park and three at Etihad Stadium.
The now-demolished Olympic Park was the first venue to host State of Origin south of the NSW border, with 25,800 fans packing the venue in 1990. After over 87,000 attended the MCG in 1994, a smaller crowd of 52,994 turned up the following year and two years later, just 25,102 fans were in attendance.
Since then, Melbourne has its own team in the NRL with the Melbourne Storm regularly attracting respectable crowds, firstly to Olympic Park, then Etihad Stadium and now AAMI Park.
After a less than impressive crowd in 1997, the Victorian capital didn’t host another Origin game until 2006, when a sell-out crowd of 54,833 was in attendance at Etihad Stadium. 50,967 attended the 55,000-capacity venue in 2009 and 56,021 squeezed into the venue in 2012.
On Wednesday evening, an estimated 24,000 fans travelled from New South Wales and Queensland to be amongst the huge crowd they added to the electric atmosphere.
The famous venue’s new LED lighting lit up the ground, inside and out, while additional lighting and fireworks inside the venue created a spectacular pre-match.
On the field, New South Wales came up with the goods, defeating Queensland 26-18 to level the series, going into game three at Suncorp Stadium. 80,122 fans attended game one at ANZ Stadium and a capacity crowd of 52,000 will be on hand in Brisbane for the decider.
While general public tickets were completely sold-out, the MCC Members Reserve fell short of capacity, with a number of empty seats, particularly on the lower level in the Ponsford Stand and at either side of level four. Members were required to pay an additional $25 on top of their annual membership to gain entry.
It’s a bumper year for the ground, with the Cricket World Cup, Rugby League State of Origin and the International Champions Cup Football in addition to the standard AFL and Cricket fixtures. In July, Manchester City, Real Madrid and AS Roma will play three football matches as part of the 2015 Champions Cup. The last time the MCG hosted football, over 95,000 fans watched Liverpool play Melbourne Victory.
What will be interesting is when the NRL schedule the next Origin game in Melbourne. History suggests it shouldn’t be consecutive years, but maybe every two or three? What’s your thoughts? Have your say below.