50 Awesome Melbourne Things: The Bubble Dome

I don’t really care for either of the ‘real’ names for this stadium in Melbourne, Aami Park is the corporate tagged name which will probably change in two years time (ColonialTelstraEtihadDocklands Oval anyone?) and ‘Melbourne Rectangular Stadium’ is just a snorefest. Let’s be honest. It’s the Bubble Dome, why? Well look at the image above- BUBBLES!

I’ve become good friends with two of the people I got the opportunity to travel to Paris with earlier in the year (we are the ones that went to Disneyland together), Sarah lives in Melbourne and we catch up frequently, and Ally lives somewhere in the Blue Mountains in NSW in a place she refers to as ‘The Village’ (it conjures up images of horse and carts and Victorian garb.)

Ally is a fan of a sport that I have very little knowledge of, something called Rugby or the like, and her team was playing Melbourne’s team (we have a team that’s not in the AFL?) and as she’d never been to Melbourne before this seemed to be the perfect opportunity.

As I get some kicks out of architecture I’d wanted to see what the Bubble Dome was like inside, because it’s cool on the outside! It was also going to be a great day to catch up with friends, and maybe discover a love for a newfound sport.

We walked to the Dome in a swathe of purple- both Melbourne Storm (the Rugby team) and the Fremantle Dockers (AFL) were playing in the vicinity that night, so purple seemed to be the colour of choice. And it was mine. As a loyal Melbournian I donned a Storm scarf from the merch stand, while Sarah and Ally donned South Sydney colours. Poor children, even with salary cap issues we all know Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia and will clearly dominate at anything it plays. I wore my purple with pride as we entered the stadium.

The stadium isn’t particularly large, it has a capacity of 30,000 people around a rectangular field. It is a nice intimate stadium though. The sound system seemed to bounce of the rounded bubble walls well, so I can imagine it being a good concert venue- and it has been, the Foo Fighters played to a capacity crowd in the venue in 2011. Rugby and Soccer are the main events at the stadium though, and on the night over 19,000 were in attendance.

Somehow we had ended up in the ‘Burrow’ (or at least close to it), the home away from home for the South Sydney Rabbitoh supporters. I felt like I’d made a wrong turn and ended up in Santaland, there was green and red everywhere. They even had balloons and chants. I kind of liked it. They certainly don’t have chants in the AFL. Still I was one of the few Storm supporters in the area…

The game got underway, there were cheerleaders and fire cannons and then people running and tackling and stuff. I still don’t particularly understand it, but crowd mentality meant that I was up cheering on my feet as the Melbourne Storm thrashed the Rabbitohs. I think at one point I lost my voice.

There are plenty of food stands and drink stands, including coffee carts to fill your bellies, and there are merchandise stands around the stadium to deck yourself out in your team colours. There was a little bit of rain on the night we attended, but the Bubbles did a good job of keeping most of this away from us in the crowd.

The Bubble Dome is also award winning- most recently in 2012 it won an award for the most iconic and culturally significant stadium at the 2012 Stadium Awards. Yes, even stadiums have award ceremonies. I heard the Bubble Dome couldn’t be there in person though to collect the trophy…

That was terrible…I’m sorry.

It’s good to remember that Melbourne is home to more than just AFL teams, there are plenty of other sports to either play or watch, and while I still have no real idea what happened at the Rugby I still had a lot of fun.

Oh and at night the roof lights up in an array of colours. Totally Melbourne’s coolest stadium.



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