The AFL and Etihad Stadium management have defended the venue’s handling of Sunday’s larger-than-expected crowd after hundreds of fans missed the start of St Kilda’s clash with Carlton.
The second quarter was underway before all supporters had entered the stadium with the 47,945-strong crowd – the biggest of the AFL season to date at the ground – much larger than the 34,000 that had been budgeted for.
But venue spokesman Bill Lane said that all 55 ticket booths were open and fully staffed, with no ticketing system malfunctions reported on the day.
An abnormally high number of walk-up ticket sales on a sunny winter’s day in Melbourne were behind the delays, the sheer volume of fans wanting to enter the stadium taking time to process.
“We sold more than 10,500 tickets at the stadium on the day and we regard it as a busy day when we sell between 5,000 to 6,000,” Lane said.
“And that walk-up (demand) was late as well.
“Everything worked as it should and the queues moved steadily.
“But we always strongly urge people to pre-purchase online in the week before the game.
“If you leave it until the last minute you will run into congestion.”
Fans took to social media to vent their anger at the delays.
All general admission seating was sold out, with approximately 1,500 standing room tickets sold for the Saints’ home game.
But adding to the frustration was the sight of empty seats at the stadium that can hold approximately 55,000 people as the game progressed.
“Any unoccupied seats were either club membership seats or reserved seats of some description,” Lane explained.
The match, won by St Kilda by 32 points, attracted the second-highest crowd at the venue ever for a game between the two clubs.