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Why Melbourne is the sporting capital of the world

Melbourne’s state-of-the-art sporting precinct is the heart of the city.
Melbourne’s state-of-the-art sporting precinct is the heart of the city.


Melbourne prides itself on its calendar of world class sporting events. With a population of little more than four million, Australia's sporting and cultural capital punches well above its weight.

The Australian Open tennis Grand Slam, Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Boxing Day Test cricket international and the Melbourne Cup Carnival highlight a burgeoning roster of events drawn from near and far.

However, the foundation for Melbourne's marvellous sporting calendar was laid long before Andy Murray hit a forehand at the Australian Open or Lewis Hamilton roared to victory in the F1 Grand Prix.

Melbourne first hosted "the big four” international sporting events in the same year in 1996. It was a momentous year that solidified both the foundations of Melbourne’s enviable annual event calendar of world-class tennis, horse racing, F1 and international cricket, and the infrastructure essential for Melbourne’s sporting legacy.

In the city’s first hosting of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Damon Hill raced to victory at the Albert Park circuit. Boris Becker and Monica Seles won Australia's tennis Grand Slam at Rod Laver Arena. Courtney Walsh and Brian Lara steered the West Indies to a six wicket victory against an Australian team featuring Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and the Waugh brothers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), And at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday in November, Saintly won legendary trainer Bart Cummings the ninth of his record breaking 12 Melbourne Cups.

Today, Melbourne’s calendar bulges with even more international sport. The world's best MotoGP riders descend on Phillip Island each October for the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Surfers from around the world swell to Bells Beach for the Rip Curl Pro every Easter.

Cricket's World Cup, the Commonwealth Games, Asian Cup soccer and international friendlies featuring the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Liverpool have become common fixtures.

So too have Presidents Cup and Australian Masters Golf, UCI Road and Track Cycling Championships and FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Recent additions to the calendar include the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, World Cup of Golf, Netball Fast5 Series and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – now part of the UCIs global tour calendar.

The investment in infrastructure to support Melbourne’s award-winning major events strategy has resulted in a state-of-the-art sporting precinct in the heart of the city with outstanding public transport that makes it easy for fans to attend. Investment continues today.

Melbourne Park is currently in the midst of a further $338 million redevelopment including a pedestrian bridge to better link the home of the Australian Open with the city centre. Bold new $1 billion plans have been drafted to transform the MCG with more parkland and public spaces for live events.

In 1996, Melbourne proved beyond doubt it was a world-class sporting city, when four major international events formed the backbone of the city’s sports strategy.

The legacy continues and the world has taken notice with Melbourne being crowned SportBusiness Ultimate Sport City of the Decade after being named the World’s Ultimate Sports City in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Melbourne Park
Melbourne Park is currently in the midst of a further $338 million redevelopment.


Sports events coming to Melbourne

  • Boxing Day Test. Melbourne Cricket Ground. 26 Dec 2016, 27 Dec 2016, 28 Dec 2016
  • 2017 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Geelong and the Great Ocean Road. 27 - 29 Jan 2017
  • Australian Open - The Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific. Melbourne Park. 16 - 29 Jan 2017
  • Festival of Sails. Geelong. 21 - 28 Jan 2017
  • Superbike World Championship. Phillip Island. 24 - 26 Feb 2017
  • 2017 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix. Albert Park. 23 - 26 Mar 2017
  • Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Bells Beach. 14 Apr 2017 (dates to be confirmed), 15 Apr 2017 (dates to be confirmed), 16 Apr 2017 (dates to be confirmed)
  • Supercars WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint. Phillip Island. 21 - 23 Apr 2017
  • Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Phillip Island. 21 Oct 2017
  • 2017 Melbourne Cup Carnival. Flemington Race Course. 4 Nov 2017 – 11 Nov 2017

This material was produced by the Victorian Government