Mariners aiming for A-League first with stadium purchase

Australian A-League football team the Central Coast Mariners has submitted a bid to become the outright owner of its home ground, Central Coast Stadium.

The stadium is currently owned by Central Coast Council, and Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth is keen on striking a deal. Should an agreement be reached, the Mariners would become the first A-League team to own its stadium.

Charlesworth has unveiled plans to repaint the stadium’s seats in Mariners colours and build a roof at the uncovered end of the ground. The 20,000-capacity ground occasionally hosts rugby matches but its sole tenants are the Mariners.

“One of the biggest problems in Australian sport is that clubs don’t typically own stadiums, councils do,” Charlesworth told Australian newspaper the Daily Telegraph. “That means you can’t invest in what is someone else’s product, and you can’t drive the revenues that such investment would subsequently reap.

“We’re the only tenant at Central Coast Stadium, and they put on about 10-12 events a year there – it’s nowhere near enough to justify its existence apart from for us. So we just made the natural move, and said, either give us the management rights, so we can drive new content and make the stadium our own – paint it yellow for example – or let us acquire the whole stadium.

“The council to my knowledge are working out what they want to do, while it’s an interim administration, but we don’t want to hang around. I don’t know whether they’d want to keep the asset, or whether the local community has a strong feeling about it being in private or public hands. But we’d put the money in to change the seats to the right colour, we’d look at putting a roof on the end where our home fans sit. We can’t even change the colour of the stadium as things stand.”

The team currently rents the stadium from the council but does not receive the revenue generated from food and drink sold at the ground on match days.

The Mariners’ 2016-17 A-League season begins with an away game at Perth Glory on Saturday.