AFL Aussie rules football club Carlton is set to press ahead with its renovation of Ikon Park following a funding commitment from the federal government, while the stadium’s naming rights partner has also extended its deal.
The Melbourne stadium has been Carlton’s headquarters since opening in 1897, although it hasn’t staged AFL games since 2005. Following the formation of the women’s AFLW league in 2017, Ikon Park has become the home of Carlton’s team in the competition and the renovation is planned to enhance this position.
The Liberal Nationals Government has confirmed it will commit Aus$15m (£8.28m/€9.43m/$10.68m) to the project, building on an earlier pledge of Aus$20m by Victoria’s state government which was dependent on federal backing.
Seating capacity at the ground will remain at around 18,000 to 20,000, with upgraded match-day facilities to be introduced including lights to broadcast standard, new player changing room facilities and a range of further upgrades that will seek to enhance the supporter experience.
As part of the masterplan, the club will also further develop the education facilities which currently house the Carlton College of Sport, providing a range of education experiences to female athletes, coaches and the wider community. Football administration facilities will also be expanded.
The renovation may also mean Ikon Park comes back into play as a host of lower-tier AFL games. Carlton president Mark LoGiudice said: “This investment, in addition to the $20m provided by the Daniel Andrews State Government, will consolidate Ikon Park as the home of women’s football and the long-term base of the Carlton Football Club.
“This investment provides all Victorians with the opportunity to be part of the growing competition of AFLW, whether this be through player or coaching pathways, fan engagement or crowd attendance.
“The commitment also ensures that AFLW games, whether they are season openers or grand finals, can be played at a facility that will help us take the women’s game to a whole new level for our players, coaches and fans. Our new integrated facilities will provide all of our athletes across AFLW, VFLW, AFL and VFL the same professional experiences and opportunities.”
Meanwhile, commercial cleaning company Ikon Services Australia has agreed a five-year extension to its naming rights deal for the ground. Ikon has served in the role since 2015 and will now continue through to 2024.