For the third time running, Melbourne has been awarded the prestigious ‘Ultimate Sports City' award cementing its position as the best sports city in the world. After 25 cities made the final cut, Melbourne was the clear winner ahead of Singapore and London. The next best Australia city was Sydney in fifth place.
What makes Melbourne so special? Let's start with the international events. The biggest showpiece has to be the Australian Open Tennis Championship with a total attendance of over 650,000 visitors this year. It has been held in Melbourne in January since 1987 having been previously played in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney (and even New Zealand as the amateur Australasian Open).
The other huge international event is the Australian Grand Prix, which is held on the street circuit around Albert Park every March. Just over 250,000 people attended this year's race, which was won by Jenson Button. The most successful driver ever at the Grand Prix is Michael Schumacher who has won four times.
Other events that have helped Melbourne to the top spot include the AFL, the Boxing Day cricket test match, the spring racing carnival and the Australian Masters Golf tournament, which last year attracted Tiger Woods as a participant.
Melbourne also hosted the Bledisloe Cup rugby match between Australia and New Zealand and the Socceroos last match before the World Cup in South Africa. In 2011, the Presidents Cup will be played at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. It will be the first time ever that a city outside the United States will host this event for a second time.
To say that Melburnians are sports mad is an understatement. It was the first Australian city to host the Olympics (back in 1956) and it hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2006. It is home to nine AFL teams, two A-League sides (Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart), a champion NRL side (Melbourne Storm), the Melbourne Vixens (netball), the Melbourne Ice (AIHL), the Melbourne Tigers (NBL) and from 2011 it will also be home to the Melbourne Rebels in the Super 15 rugby tournament.
The Australian Olympic Committee has also announced potential bids to host the Summer Olympics in 2024 or 2028.
The city is home to some of the most magnificent stadiums in the world including the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the Docklands Stadium (Etihad Stadium), Princes Park (VISY Park) and the new Rectangular Stadium (AAMI Park), which is the only purpose built rectangular stadium in Melbourne and home to the Victory, Storm and Rebels.
So, if you're sports mad, come to Melbourne. I'm sure there's something to suit your taste!