The Docklands Stadium was completed in March 2000 and it was immediately apparent that this was a fundamentally different kind of sporting experience. With its very steeply raked tiers, the stadium achieves a remarkably close relationship of its audience to the playing field. One would hope this would translate into a strong sense of place and occasion but it doesn't. Saturated with advertising, playback screens and a deafening echo of crowd noise, the stadium creates the sense of a virtual world, as if one has entered a television set. This merging of real and virtual is accentuated when the roof is closed as it is for both sun and rain – the roof is closed on sunny days to control the light for television broadcasting. The stadium accentuates the enclosure of the 'crowd' against the city as theorised by Canetti:

The merger of interests in the real (stadium) and the virtual (TV rights) reflects the conception of a single market; the spectacle of sport can be consumed via the stadium or television and the two markets flow into each other. A key strategy has been the siphoning of matches and events from the much larger and much-loved Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to the Docklands stadium. When the Docklands stadium reaches capacity the excess demand stimulates the pay-TV market. There was some public debate about this private appropriation of the 'people's game' by a stadium where the public 'pay more to get into a venue where the sun never shines, the grass never grows, the footy atmosphere is muted at best and a pie costs the earth'.4