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The Demons show their hand

30 Nov 2010

By Shane Scanlan

Melbourne Football Club has formally expressed its interest in using a proposed Docklands western park as a training facility.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle first suggested the idea more than a year ago, but it has taken until now for the club to publicly show an interest.

The State Government and the City of Melbourne’s positioning of its second decade of Docklands consultation has created a context for the Demons’ bid.

A western park is one of five Docklands projects being pursued by VicUrban and the council.  Three options have been proposed for the site under the Bolte Bridge: an ecological park, a recreational park, and a sports park.  The Demons’ interest fits neatly into the third option.

The Government is helping the football club prepare its concepts plans, but the club says costs and project timing are yet to be discussed.

The club has advised that it is “working on a feasibility study for the establishment of an integrated sporting and community centre” on the site.

Melbourne has joined with Netball Victoria in its bid and proposes that both organisations become principal tenants of the two-hectare park.

It says it wants to work with the Docklands community and club president Jim Stynes is enthusiastic about the prospect of moving to Docklands.

“Melbourne is committed to building a community base for the residents, workers and visitors to the Docklands. It is our aim for the facility to become a landmark, a unique destination in its own right within the precinct,” Mr Stynes said.

“To that end, it is our intention to embark on a community consultation process as we further develop the proposal.”

“This facility would provide a fully integrated new home for the ‘old’ Melbourne moving into the ‘new’ Melbourne, providing facilities for all levels of the two sports – netball and football – from community, grass-roots levels to elite.”

“For the first time in over 40 years, all the club’s activities from administration, training to community would be together, and most significantly, in our heartland - the City of Melbourne.”

The club has arranged to meet and discuss its plans with the Docklands Community Association, which is yet to form a view.

Association president Roger Gardner said the DCA would canvass its members on all three options before forming an opinion.

Mr Gardner said, however, that initial scrutiny of high-level schematics indicated that once a football ground went into the space, there was very little room left.

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