Posted on 07. May, 2010 in Victoria

A high-tech laser light display and ceremonial goal kick by rugby league great Hazem El Masri will be highlights of a spectacular opening night for Melbourne’s new AAMI Park.

Sports Minister James Merlino said a sell-out 30,000-strong crowd will also celebrate Melbourne’s rich sporting legacy when Australia takes on traditional rivals New Zealand tonight.

“After more than two years of construction, Melbourne’s iconic new rectangular stadium will open in style tonight – heralding an exiting new chapter for sport in Victoria,” Mr Merlino said.

“Victorians love their sport and can be proud of this fantastic new addition to our world-class sporting precinct that is the new home of rugby league, rugby union and soccer in our state.”

Mr Merlino said all-time NRL points scorer Hazem El Masri – who scored 2418 points in a stellar 316-game career – would boot the first goal at the stadium in a dazzling pre-match ceremony.

“Hazem El Masri is a true champion of the game and the fans will get a chance to see and pay tribute to one of the best kickers in the game,” Mr Merlino said.

Mr Merlino said Melbourne’s indigenous community will provide a special ‘Welcome to Country’ and blessing of the stadium, paying tribute the traditional custodians of the region. 

“Our rich sporting legacy will also be on show in a special tribute highlighting past and present champions and the sporting events that make Melbourne the Ultimate Sports City,” he said.

“The Australian National Anthem will be performed by pop singer Katie Noonan while the New Zealand National Anthem will be sung by classical performer Elizabeth Marvelley.” 

Mr Merlino said the new stadium was constructed with 2,500 tonnes of steel and more than 26,000 square metres of cladding in the roof, while the structure was made with nearly 40 kilometres of custom-built aluminium framework and almost 16 kilometres of roof guttering. 

More than 1,200 people were involved in construction of AAMI Park, which houses elite training facilities, including a gym and internal athletics areas, a four-lane 25 metre lap pool with player recovery and medical facilities, including radiology and sports medicine.

Mr Merlino encouraged fans to take advantage of public transport to the venue. 

“This promises to be an exciting match, but I encourage all fans to take public transport where possible to the match, as there is limited parking around the precinct,” Mr Merlino said.

Gates open at 6.00pm, with pre-match entertainment starting at 7.30pm and kick-off at 8.00pm.

The sold-out Test will be broadcast live into Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Watch Sports Minister James Merino expain the 2010 Budget:

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