Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium is to undergo major redevelopment as part of plans by the Victoria government to renovate a host of venues in the Australian city.
Under the plans, the Melbourne Cricket Ground has also been guaranteed hosting rights to the Grand Final of the AFL Aussie rules football league until 2057. The MCG will be able to borrow the necessary funds to develop its Southern Stand, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.
The AFL purchased Etihad Stadium in 2016 and Aus$225m (£136m/€157m/$194m) has now been set aside to renovate the stadium. McLachlan said that it will take 12 to 18 months to finalise the plans for the revamp, with the development itself to take four to five years.
Central to the upgrade will be the improvement of the stadium’s women’s facilities. The stadium will also be better equipped to host football and rugby matches. Currently, the venue is primarily an AFL stadium, but it also hosts cricket, rugby league and football games.
“We have made a commitment to the government that it is a venue that is open for all sports and we’ve committed to that for 30 years,” McLachlan said, according to Australian newspaper The Age.
“We have always had that attitude and this is now contractually guaranteed. We want to open up Etihad Stadium, have a better venue and better destination and open up the precinct.”
Three more Melbourne venues – Ikon Park, Whitten Oval and Casey Fields – will benefit from redevelopment as part of the plans. As a result, the Victorian government will not be required to build a third major venue alongside Etihad Stadium and the MCG. Ikon Park, Whitten Oval and Casey Fields will host more AFL Women’s matches as part of the plans.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told ABC Radio: ““For the first time three groups that have not always necessarily been able to get a deal done; the government of the day, the MCC and the AFL have been able to do a deal that I think sets us up to remain the sporting and major events capital.
“This is investment in the sports infrastructure that we need, the stadiums and other programs that we need, the buildings that we need in order to stay No.1.”