State funds AFL for Etihad Stadium redevelopment

State funds AFL for Etihad Stadium redevelopment

By Shane Scanlan

The AFL has been awarded state funding to redevelop Etihad Stadium as part of a half-a-billion-dollar deal to keep the grand final in Melbourne until 2057.

The league has been given $225 million specifically to redevelop Etihad Stadium and its Harbour Esplanade headquarters.

Details of the deal are sketchy, with the most information coming from Channel 9 Footy Show host and Collingwood Football Club president Eddie McGuire on April 12.

Speaking about the $225 million, Mr McGuire said: “Included in that is a new precinct. They’re going to knock down where AFL House is and the Channel Seven area out the front there.”

“In a joint venture between the AFL and the state government, (it) will go into building a seven-star hotel where the Brownlow Medal and other major events will be held.”

“And out over the road there to the waterfront at the other end of the ground.”

“On the northern side, there may even be another development there of a Festival Hall-style building. So this has become concert venue.”

“It’s (the stadium) going to be great for soccer, because they’re going to fix up the rectangular area of it, rugby union and rugby league and a major events hub for the AFL.”

Mr McGuire said the credit for the deal belonged to Premier Daniel Andrews, ALF chief executive, Gill McLachlan, and Melbourne Cricket Club president Steven Smith.

He added: “They’re going to knock over AFL House. AFL House is going to move around the corner, over the fence here (Docklands Studios, where the show is produced), on the waterfront in a deal which gives them 1500sqm of waterfront, plus the sports grounds there at Ron Barassi Snr oval and they’ll be able to go a lot of things there for a 40 year lease for $1 per year.”

“It’s because it’s part of a joint venture with the front of the land that the AFL is to give up the state government to build a whole new facility.”

The area Mr McGuire referred to is the narrow strip of land on the water-side of Ron Barassi Snr Park at NewQuay West.

AFL national venues manager Simon Gorr told Docklands News that, despite Mr McGuire’s “scoop”, much of the detail was yet to be worked out.

He said Channel 7’s building was not part of the AFL House redevelopment and it was also still to be determined whether the league’s headquarters would be relocated within Docklands or not.

He said, the AFL was definitely not intending to build anything over Harbour Esplanade.

“The City of Melbourne and Development Victoria have made it clear that they are not interested in that,” he said.

He said Harbour Esplanade itself was not a major consideration, but said it would be remiss of both the league and the planning authorities if they did not carefully consider the impacts of their ambitions for both sides of the road.

Mr Gorr said a project control group, comprising AFL and state government representatives, had been established to drive the project.

He said the redevelopment would be staged to allow ongoing use of the stadium and the league aimed to have the first, yet to be defined, outcomes between 18 months and three years from now.

The state government refused to reveal any details of the deal or what rights the AFL might have over Ron Barassi Snr Park.

A government spokesperson said: “The Andrews Labor Government is redeveloping sporting precincts throughout Victoria, including at Docklands, to keep the best events here.”

“The transformation of Etihad Stadium into a world-class sports and entertainment destination will provide an impetus to realise the potential of Harbour Esplanade and Melbourne’s waterfront.”

“It will create opportunities to bring people to the stadium and the waterfront and create better links between the CBD and Southern Cross station.”

“This is an exciting long-term project and we look forward to working with all stakeholders and the community.”

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