36 years of the iconic MCG lights
The famous MCG light towers recently marked 36 years since they were first turned on to illuminated the hallowed sporting ground.
An instantly recognisable landmark of the Melbourne skyline, the six light towers have witnessed historic events, record-breaking crowds and countless classic matches since their installation in 1984.
Standing at 85 metres tall, each tower contains approximately 130 tonnes of steel, and has a diameter of 4.2m at the base, which narrows to 2m at the top.
Despite only being installed in the 1980s, the MCG actually hosted sporting events under lights nearly 100 years earlier. In what proved to be a futile effort to establish night football in Victoria, in 1879 the ‘G held two evening football matches – the first on August 5 between Collingwood Rifles and East Melbourne Artillery, and the second a week later between Melbourne and Carlton.
Over a century later – following a joint initiative between the Melbourne Cricket Club and Cricket Victoria – the light towers as we know them today were officially switched on at 9.30pm on December 3, 1984 by then State Premier the Honourable John Cain, who went on to become an MCG Trustee and MCC Honorary Life Member.
Just over two months later, on February 17, 1985, the light towers were used for their first official event – the World Championship of Cricket match between Australia and England.
In early 2020 the light towers underwent their biggest transformation since 1984 – with an $11 million project which saw the existing 1200 metal halide lamps replaced with 950 LED sports lights.
The new lights provide a better viewing experience, greater speed and flexibility in lighting requirements, and are 50 per cent more energy efficient than the old lamps.
The new lights were first used for the Australia A v The Lions match on February.