The land on which Hisense Arena is built was once part of Yarra Park. The main playing field located here was established along with a pavillion in 1868 for the Civil Service Cricket Club. When the club struck serious financial problems it transferred their lease to Scotch College in 1879 for 1000 pounds. When the College moved to Hawthorn and no longer required the field, the occupancy was sold to the Melbourne Cricket Club. However, Old Scotch Collegians Football Club (est 1921) continued to utilise this fenced oval until 1992 when the field was essentially shifted to the current location ('The Oval') adjacent to Rod Laver Arena.
Built by Theiss Constructions at a cost of $65m, the multi purpose arena was completed in 2000. Hisense Arena extended Melbourne Park and its capacity to handle ever increasing tennis crowds, whilst also satisfying demand for another flexible multi purpose venue. This state-of-the-art indoor/outdoor facility can host a variety of sports, including basketball, tennis, boxing, gymnastics, ice hockey, dancesports and cycling in its own velodrome.
A world class entertainment venue, Hisense Arena holds an eclectic range of music concerts, family orientated performances, dance parties and in 2008, the Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala.
Venue features include:
- Fully retractable roof – 10 minutes to close
- Dynamic seating configurations (raise-able, retractable, and removable – raising the seats exposes the world class cycling velodrome)
- A larger floor area than Rod Laver Arena
- Steeper seating rake (angle) allows patrons at the very top to feel like they’re right in the action
- Corporate suites and function rooms
From a sporting perspective, Hisense Arena has intermittently hosted boxing - including the Anthony Mundine v Lester Ellis fight in 2002, and in recent years the Mundine v Soliman and Fenech v Nelson bouts. Just as quick on their feet but a little less violent, dancesport championships have become a regular and popular feature.
Meanwhile, professional wrestling took centre stage in 2004, and to reiterate the venue's dynamic capability, the Trans Tasman netball Trophy was won by Australia the same year (below). Popular Trans Tasman ANZ Championship side Melbourne Vixens have made Hisense Arena their home. Their almost perfect 2009 season culminated in winning the Grand Final at the venue. Since that triumph the Vixens have been a finals regular and each year continue to break attendance records.
Significantly, the 'Multi Purpose Venue' hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games cycling, netball and basketball events. The short lived NBL club South Dragons (above) played home games at the venue from 2006-2009, coming from last to win the Championship in their final season.
In 2008 every seat was sold for the Australian Open, a tournament that broke a number of attendance records. Later the same year, the Prime Minister's Olympic Dinner was one of the more spectacular events in the venue's history.
Cycling is a regular feature, events such as the enduring Austral Wheelrace held at Hisense Arena between 2001-10, and the Revolution format proved popular with spectators. In 2010 and 2012 Hisense Arena hosted the UCI World Track championship.
NBL Basketball returned to Hisense Arena for the 2012/13 season with the Melbourne Tigers playing several of their home games. In a game against the Kings on 9 March 2014 Chris Goulding created NBL history by becoming the first player to score 50 points since the league reverted to 10-minute quarters for the 2009/10 season.
The venue is also the scene for internationally popular concert performers such as Scissor Sisters, BB King, Nicki Minaj and One Direction.
PM's Dinner 2008 photo courtesy of Vicki Jones Photography.