The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), managers of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) are delighted to today unveil the brand-new MCG Multi-Faith Prayer Room, open to the public ahead of Round 1 of the 2022 AFL Premiership Season.
Situated on Level B1 of the Great Southern Stand, the purpose built space commenced works in November 2021 following feasibility and usage studies conducted during in early 2021.
The brand-new Multi-Faith Prayer Room replaces a smaller dedicated space previously located in the Ponsford Stand.
The Multi-Faith Prayer Room will be able to cater to more than 50 patrons, of all faiths including Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu, at any one time, and will be accessible for all patrons from across the stadium, regardless of where they are seated.
The 100-square metre facility has the ability to separate males and females – with an obscured visual screen to remove acoustic separation – between the two and clear floor space, with shoe racks, for physical prayer and to accommodate differing faith requirements.
With architecture and design led by Desypher’s Issam Nabulsi, the Multi-Faith Prayer Room’s layout is non-descript and free of identifiable references to a specific single faith.
The bathrooms of the Multi-Faith Prayer Room sees wudu units installed to enable users of the Muslim faith to practice ablution prior to prayer in the immediate space where prayer will be undertaken. The bathrooms will cater for both males and females that can service the peaks of use on a match day.
The prayer areas of the facility will be able to accommodate Muslim worshippers individually or in groups and orientated towards Ka’abah (more commonly known as Makkah, in current day Saudi Arabia). The space will also simultaneously meet the spatial and eastward orientation requirements of proponents of the Jewish and Hindu faiths.
The Multi-Faith Prayer Room will also be multi-purpose to its occupants, with the provision of fixed and loose seating in the prayer space, an austere yet spiritual treatment of interior of prayer space and acoustic insulation to dampen noise that would interfere with prayer from the rest of the stadium.
All building materials have been sourced throughout Melbourne and Victoria, with the facility’s design elements reflecting the unique and iconic foundations of the MCG. The Prayer Room’s roof design is to reflect the stepped underside of the stadium’s seating bowl, while the carpet selection is reminiscent of the hallowed turf.
The project undertook discussion and direction with a range of external consultancy groups to ensure the non-committal approach, including the Jewish Christian and Muslim Association (JMCA), the Hindu Council of Australia and MCC Community Partner, the Bachar Houli Foundation.
MCC President Michael Happell said the opening of the Multi-Faith Prayer Room endorsed the Club’s commitment to display community leadership by providing facilities within the MCG that promotes the inclusiveness of the venue.
“The MCG is often referred to as The People’s Ground and I’m delighted to officially open this brand-new space that is truly reflective of that title,” Mr Happell said.
“The delivery of this project is symbolic of the Club’s commitment to ensuring the MCG is a safe and inclusive venue for all visitors.
“Sport and faith are intertwined and we are committed to promoting the inclusivity that this new multi-faith prayer room will provide to members, patrons and staff members, and their ability to perform their faith’s prayer in a considered and beautiful space.
“The project further enhances the MCG’s standing as a leader in the community space and is a really important project with key events on the horizon, including the Men’s T20 World Cup tournament will see an increase of international fans visiting the MCG.
“I extend our gratitude to members of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Association, Hindu Council of Australia and our close relationship with Bachar and the Bachar Houli Foundation for their consultancy and endorsement of this project. As well as our partners in building this project Desypher and One68.”
The MCG Multi-Faith Prayer Room will be open to all patrons for all four matches of Round 1 of the 2022 AFL Premiership Season and beyond.