Big MCG crowds fuel AFL single-round attendance record

Roger Vaughan |

More than 83,000 fans packed into the MCG on Thursday to watch Carlton take on Richmond.
More than 83,000 fans packed into the MCG on Thursday to watch Carlton take on Richmond.

The AFL is boasting a crowds record, with more than 413,000 fans going to round-one matches.

Fuelled by three MCG blockbusters and the opening of the Joel Selwood Stand at the GMHBA Stadium in Geelong, the 413,405 total easily beat the old mark of 400,401 – set seven years ago, also in round one.

It follows the new ’round zero’ season opener two weekends ago, when the four games in NSW and Queensland also attracted healthy crowds.

Thursday night’s attendance of 83,881 at the MCG – the third-highest for a Carlton-Richmond match – set the tone.

Sydney’s win over premiers Collingwood the following night attracted 78,933 fans – the highest Magpies crowd against a non-Victorian team and also a record for matches between the two sides.

Essendon and Hawthorn completed the MCG trifecta on Saturday when the two fierce rivals attracted their third-biggest crowd of 73,805.

Saturday night’s 39,352 was the highest attendance at GMHBA Stadium since the 1981 record of 41,395.

The MCG prepares for Carlton v Richmond in the AFL.
The MCG has been pulling in plenty of supporters at the start of the 2024 AFL season. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

The crowd figures follow the so-called opening round in Sydney and Brisbane, which AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon is lauding as a success.

“For us to then go into round one and get four really big crowds at the MCG, nearly 40,000 people at Geelong and then a great crowd (in Adelaide) yesterday and also over 40,000 in WA, we’re really happy,” Dillon told reporters in Adelaide.

“It worked really well being able to have our season launch in Sydney and get a real focus on the game in New South Wales and Queensland.

“We had the four sell-out crowds but also pleasingly our membership for the Swans and the Giants and the Suns and the Lions are all double-digit percentages ahead year-on-year, including the Giants over 30 per cent ahead, so it has been really successful.”

Dillon said all games in Adelaide and surrounds for Gather Round, which this year runs from April 4-7, were now officially sell-outs – although more than 1000 tickets across the nine games will be re-released on Thursday.

“The reason for the tickets coming back is some members who had taken them up weren’t going to be here, and then some corporate tickets (were) been returned,” Dillon said.

AFL’S TOP FIVE ROUNDS FOR ATTENDANCE

1. Round 1 2024 – 413,405
2. Round 1 2017 – 400,401
3. Round 3 2018 – 393,537
4. Round 1 2023 – 392,248
5. Round 5 2017 – 391,980

AAP