Carlton planning for a bumper Round 1 crowd at the MCG
Carlton planning for a bumper Round 1 crowd at the MCG

Revealed: Number of fans Blues want at MCG opener

Carlton is planning for a crowd of at least 50,000 at the MCG for its season-opener against Richmond as Victoria's streak of no locally-acquired COVID-19 cases continues.

In what would be a major boost to the coffers of Victorian AFL clubs, there is growing hope for significant crowd numbers, which could grow as the season progresses.

Victoria on Wednesday reported no new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases for the 21st consecutive day.

The Round 1 season-opener on March 18 is a Richmond home game, but the Blues will work to get as many of their members into the ground as possible.

The corresponding match last year was played at an empty MCG, with Victorian-based Carlton fans having been unable to attend a game since Round 23, 2019.

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There was no crowd for last year’s AFL season-opener between Richmond and Carlton. Picture: Michael Klein
There was no crowd for last year’s AFL season-opener between Richmond and Carlton. Picture: Michael Klein

"We're anticipating a 50 per cent crowd," Carlton president Mark LoGiudice said.

"We would love all of our 63,000 members at the game. Is that possible? Only time will tell. We've got to wait for advice and instructions and we'll follow the government guidelines and the AFL guidelines and we'll do what we have to do to get our members into games to watch footy.

"In an ideal world we want 100,000 people at the MCG. We've just got to go with the guidelines and if 50,000 is the maximum, then we'll be very happy with 50,000."

Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula said the AFL still had to submit COVID-safe plans but any crowd number the government approves for Round 1 could change as the season goes on.

"I suspect those numbers will probably change throughout the year," Pakula said.

Carlton and Richmond will open the AFL season. Picture: AAP Images
Carlton and Richmond will open the AFL season. Picture: AAP Images

"It's not going to be a single number set at the beginning of the year which will then carry you right through to September or October.

"The AFL will submit their proposals and they'll be considered. The longer we go through the year as the vaccine rolls out you may well see those numbers tweak upward, provided we can continue our long run of zero cases."

LoGiudice said Carlton was in a "fairly strong" financial position despite a lack of crowds in Victoria last season and was streaming towards the 2021 season.

"We've got record membership, we've got record sponsorship," LoGiudice said.

"So as a board and as a club all our members should be very, very happy with where we are financially."

Originally published as Revealed: Number of fans Blues want at MCG opener


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