Squeezing of General Admission at the MCG

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demonandy

Rookie
Mar 4, 2007
47
23
Melbourne
AFL Club
Melbourne
Other Teams
Melbourne Victory
I've been to two Sunday afternoon MCG games in the last two weeks (Melb v Geelong on 11/4 and Melb v Hawthorn on 18/4) and have noticed a concerning trend. It seems as if the quantity of general admission seating has been greatly reduced, after having been established and stable ever since the upgrade to the Ponsford/Olympic in 2006.

We all know that seating is now allocated in advance and that choice has been stripped away from fans as to where they can sit. However, on the:

11th of April:
- The entire top tier of the stadium was closed (except the MCC area)
- All GA fans were squeezed into the bottom deck of the Ponsford and behind the goals of the Southern stand.

18th of April:
- The entire top tier of the Southern Stand was closed
- It appeared that all General Admission tickets were crammed into Level 4 of the Ponsford (people were seated right up the back, which are normally only occupied for the biggest finals)
- Level 1 of the Southern Stand and Ponsford were VERY sparsely populated. (given the difference between Tier 1 and 4, and considering its usual popularity, I can only deduce that it was turned into a premium upgrade section.)
- Level 4 of the Northern (normally GA) had about 40 or so people in it, and looking at a distance just about all were wearing brown and gold. (was this a premium upgrade zone only for a certain Hawthorn membership type?)

--
The thing about all this that smacks of outright hypocrisy is the supposed COVID-safe strategy that is the cause of seating changes. On the 11th of April it was unseasonably wet and rainy, which led to a situation where fans were forced to sit in the rain in close proximity to others without the freedom to move. I saw people with toddlers and babies flee from their seats, and there was a suspicious lack of elderly fans. People who chose to stand behind the back row were told aggressively to "keep moving". All the while, infuriating messages flashed up on the screen telling us to "stay safe".

Given that the forecast was known for a few days, it's not a stretch to think that those unwilling to expose themselves to the elements chose not to attend. Those who took a risk and did attend, were denied the opportunity to enjoy their leisure time enjoying a game of footy in an acceptable environment.

On the 18th of April, a bottleneck queue at Gate 1 (Ponsford) led to a situation where fans continued to seek out their seats halfway into the first quarter. The queue itself was stifling - it was the least socially distanced I have felt for a long time. A security guard with a purple "COVID Safe Marshal" vest stood meekly in amongst the crowd, clearly unwilling to enforce the unenforceable.

Even though I booked my seat early as a MFC GA member, my seat was jammed between two groups of people (and surrounded in front and below). It felt as if everyone in this part of the stadium was being treated as a second class citizen - no choice, no ability to socially distance, and the least watchable/interactive view of the ground. I'd like to bring my kid to the games in future years and be down on ground level soaking up the atmosphere (without having to pay extra for the privilege).

In 2019 and all the years previously, I've had greater ability to socially distance (which I and countless others preferred pre COVID) when seating myself around the variety of GA areas of the ground. I completely understand that the finals are different, but these are early season H&A games being treated as finals.

The decision to close sections (in different arrangements over two weeks) reeks of devious experimentation and a slap in the face to footy-starved fans who are only now returning to live sport. Many of us paid for 2020 memberships to support our clubs with no attendance benefit. Closing sections and making formerly GA sections upgrade seats seems a way for the MCC to reclaim lost revenue from last year - save on staffing and cleaning costs by killing the experience of the people who make the game what it is. It's also disrespecting the clubs who had no idea they'd be selling memberships that offer less value than previously.

-------------

Before anyone says I'm being a whinger and we should just deal the changes, are you really willing to accept such obvious deviousness? I'm willing to recognise that at many other Australian stadiums, there is no general admission, and that this in an inevitable cost of the commercialisation of our game. Attending the MCG has been comparatively affordable for a high quality experience for a long time. But using COVID regulations as an excuse to make such drastic changes to the equality of attending a game? It would be more refreshing if they just came out and spoke honestly - GA is being phased out (not gradually as would have been fair, but with one fell swoop).

It's so obvious that squeezing general admission patrons into smaller sections of the ground leads to more questionable COVID safe behaviour. If it was during an outbreak you would have to hold the MCC liable for their baffling crowd management techniques.

Even despite all that, commercially (with crowds down this year and better than ever television coverage) it seems to be backfiring spectacularly. I've always been a diehard supporter, but even with my team 5-0 up for the first time since I was 9 years old, I'm questioning whether the experience at the ground is worth it any more. And that's sad.

--------------------
Now I don't know what the situation has been like for other games on other days, so it would be great to get some insight into what's going on overall. I haven't heard any journalists or commentators talk about this issue which I find incredibly bizarre. There are no forum topics or social media posts about it either (apart from Ticketek woes). Is it just a Melbourne Football Club home game experiment?
 

Kwality

Hall of Famer
Aug 14, 2011
32,307
12,036
Trafalgar
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West Coast
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Mclaren Mercedes F1
I've been to two Sunday afternoon MCG games in the last two weeks (Melb v Geelong on 11/4 and Melb v Hawthorn on 18/4) and have noticed a concerning trend. It seems as if the quantity of general admission seating has been greatly reduced, after having been established and stable ever since the upgrade to the Ponsford/Olympic in 2006.

We all know that seating is now allocated in advance and that choice has been stripped away from fans as to where they can sit. However, on the:

11th of April:
- The entire top tier of the stadium was closed (except the MCC area)
- All GA fans were squeezed into the bottom deck of the Ponsford and behind the goals of the Southern stand.

18th of April:
- The entire top tier of the Southern Stand was closed
- It appeared that all General Admission tickets were crammed into Level 4 of the Ponsford (people were seated right up the back, which are normally only occupied for the biggest finals)
- Level 1 of the Southern Stand and Ponsford were VERY sparsely populated. (given the difference between Tier 1 and 4, and considering its usual popularity, I can only deduce that it was turned into a premium upgrade section.)
- Level 4 of the Northern (normally GA) had about 40 or so people in it, and looking at a distance just about all were wearing brown and gold. (was this a premium upgrade zone only for a certain Hawthorn membership type?)

--
The thing about all this that smacks of outright hypocrisy is the supposed COVID-safe strategy that is the cause of seating changes. On the 11th of April it was unseasonably wet and rainy, which led to a situation where fans were forced to sit in the rain in close proximity to others without the freedom to move. I saw people with toddlers and babies flee from their seats, and there was a suspicious lack of elderly fans. People who chose to stand behind the back row were told aggressively to "keep moving". All the while, infuriating messages flashed up on the screen telling us to "stay safe".

Given that the forecast was known for a few days, it's not a stretch to think that those unwilling to expose themselves to the elements chose not to attend. Those who took a risk and did attend, were denied the opportunity to enjoy their leisure time enjoying a game of footy in an acceptable environment.

On the 18th of April, a bottleneck queue at Gate 1 (Ponsford) led to a situation where fans continued to seek out their seats halfway into the first quarter. The queue itself was stifling - it was the least socially distanced I have felt for a long time. A security guard with a purple "COVID Safe Marshal" vest stood meekly in amongst the crowd, clearly unwilling to enforce the unenforceable.

Even though I booked my seat early as a MFC GA member, my seat was jammed between two groups of people (and surrounded in front and below). It felt as if everyone in this part of the stadium was being treated as a second class citizen - no choice, no ability to socially distance, and the least watchable/interactive view of the ground. I'd like to bring my kid to the games in future years and be down on ground level soaking up the atmosphere (without having to pay extra for the privilege).

In 2019 and all the years previously, I've had greater ability to socially distance (which I and countless others preferred pre COVID) when seating myself around the variety of GA areas of the ground. I completely understand that the finals are different, but these are early season H&A games being treated as finals.

The decision to close sections (in different arrangements over two weeks) reeks of devious experimentation and a slap in the face to footy-starved fans who are only now returning to live sport. Many of us paid for 2020 memberships to support our clubs with no attendance benefit. Closing sections and making formerly GA sections upgrade seats seems a way for the MCC to reclaim lost revenue from last year - save on staffing and cleaning costs by killing the experience of the people who make the game what it is. It's also disrespecting the clubs who had no idea they'd be selling memberships that offer less value than previously.

-------------

Before anyone says I'm being a whinger and we should just deal the changes, are you really willing to accept such obvious deviousness? I'm willing to recognise that at many other Australian stadiums, there is no general admission, and that this in an inevitable cost of the commercialisation of our game. Attending the MCG has been comparatively affordable for a high quality experience for a long time. But using COVID regulations as an excuse to make such drastic changes to the equality of attending a game? It would be more refreshing if they just came out and spoke honestly - GA is being phased out (not gradually as would have been fair, but with one fell swoop).

It's so obvious that squeezing general admission patrons into smaller sections of the ground leads to more questionable COVID safe behaviour. If it was during an outbreak you would have to hold the MCC liable for their baffling crowd management techniques.

Even despite all that, commercially (with crowds down this year and better than ever television coverage) it seems to be backfiring spectacularly. I've always been a diehard supporter, but even with my team 5-0 up for the first time since I was 9 years old, I'm questioning whether the experience at the ground is worth it any more. And that's sad.

--------------------
Now I don't know what the situation has been like for other games on other days, so it would be great to get some insight into what's going on overall. I haven't heard any journalists or commentators talk about this issue which I find incredibly bizarre. There are no forum topics or social media posts about it either (apart from Ticketek woes). Is it just a Melbourne Football Club home game experiment?
So who is dudding you?
 

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kickazz

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 12, 2010
9,459
12,971
Melbourne
AFL Club
Geelong
As to the general vibe of your post - yes, they want to make more money by selling premium seats and upgrades. There would be too much of an outrage if they got rid of GA all together though - so they keep some token sections available for that. But if it was too good or too easy to get nobody would bother buying a better seat.

I remember the days when a Geelong home game at the G would allow me to sit on level 2 in the southern stand. Not anymore, half the good seats go to Hawthorn for the "replacement home game" bullshit or are made available to purchase by Telstra customers or something like that.

The key thing to remember is that from an AFL marketing/sales point of view, members are saps. We are money in the bank at the start of the year. All our memberships even have that fine print "does not guarantee entry to the ground". So, now they have us all in the bag, they need to see how else they can get money. And you don't get more revenue by flogging off the cheap seats, you package up the good ones with some booze and food and some sh*t jokes from Billy Brownless before the game. You can see why members are so important to the clubs and the AFL - we are the foundation that gives them the security to look at other options.


As for the COVID stuff - well one could talk for ages, but I think the key thing they want right now is to keep sections of the ground separate. So if someone happens to end up positive, they can just say "everyone in bays M1-11 get checked" or similar. (Yes you could spread it upon ingress and egress but the probability is higher in your section).
 

demonandy

Rookie
Mar 4, 2007
47
23
Melbourne
AFL Club
Melbourne
Other Teams
Melbourne Victory
As to the general vibe of your post - yes, they want to make more money by selling premium seats and upgrades. There would be too much of an outrage if they got rid of GA all together though - so they keep some token sections available for that. But if it was too good or too easy to get nobody would bother buying a better seat.
That's why it surprises me that there's no discussion or even outrage about a clear reduction of GA options. Say if they shifted the fences further around from the wings in '21, then took half of L1 Ponsford in '22, and so on bit by bit you can understand it would sneak under people's radars.

You're right that members are seen as saps. Such a shame that clubs are not more vocal about protecting their members' interests. Especially after the COVID season when footy became a big emotional sob story about doing it for the wellbeing of the community.

But then it saddens me even more that consumers are increasingly willing to pay for sh*t jokes and the illusion of being special for a day. Probably explains why everyone's in debt and the 1% are growing in wealth (but that's another story).

As for the COVID stuff - well one could talk for ages, but I think the key thing they want right now is to keep sections of the ground separate. So if someone happens to end up positive, they can just say "everyone in bays M1-11 get checked" or similar. (Yes you could spread it upon ingress and egress but the probability is higher in your section).
Good point - it's all about the loophole not true adherence to Government policy.
 

JohnZ

Norm Smith Medallist
Suspended
Mar 10, 2016
5,811
8,644
AFL Club
Geelong
So there's two issues at play here.

Quite honestly, the stadiums don't give a sh!t about Covid, except for what the government tells them to do. They'd have been at 100% capacity on day 1 if they could. What the stadiums actually care about is money. It's a business after all.

So now that they can pre-assign you seats, even as general admission, they've decided to section off Level 4, and only open it as needed to save money on cleaning, food and bev staff. If they can fit the crowd in and keep a section closed they will to save money.

As long as none of the sections opened didn't break any rules, there's nothing telling them to spread people out.
 

djpaulydemon

Club Legend
Oct 19, 2013
1,358
2,109
AFL Club
Melbourne
It sucks, and hopefully with 100% capacity more people will question the cost saving practices. Sitting in the double letter rows on level 4 ponsord looking at a completely empty rest of level 4 was annoying when there was less than 40,000.

At the Geelong we sat level 2 row a, by buying kids seats so if they want to gauge the public more people will be doing this.

I have a level 2 reserved seat and usually sitting with friends isn't much of a difference but having to lock in sh*t seats on level 4 on a Wednesday is frustrating.
 

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