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Western Melbourne Group lands partners for Australian-first project

Featured image credit: Western Melbourne Group

Western Melbourne Group (WMG), parent company of A-League football team Western United, has made a major breakthrough in its efforts to deliver what is claimed to be an Australian-first stadium and mixed-use development project by agreeing partnerships with YourLand Developments and Johnson Controls.

YourLand and Johnson Controls have been brought on board for the A$2bn (£1.06bn/€1.23bn/$1.34bn) development and delivery of Australia’s first sports and recreation-focused suburb in Melbourne’s West, scheduled for phased completion over the coming 10 years.

The mixed-use suburb will be developed as a public-private partnership with Wyndham City Council. Western United will serve as sports partner, YourLand as development partner and Johnson Controls as technology partner.

In September 2021, WMG announced that initial early site work on United’s new stadium project was set to commence in the following month, but the venture has since been hit by various challenges, chief of which being the impact of COVID-19.

WMG received initial planning permission from the state of Victoria for its new stadium back in January 2021. The planning approval allowed detailed design of the stadium and development to be finalised and construction timelines to be determined.

The development is set to be the first major sports stadium owned by a professional football club in Australia. The 15,000-seat stadium will be the centrepiece of a broader development that links sports, commercial and residential precincts. This will include a 5,000-capacity second stadium, which United is expected to move into as an initial home before the end of the 2023-24 A-League season, along with 900-plus residential dwellings and recreation focused wetlands.

The development will turn approximately 70 hectares of land in Tarneit into four distinct precincts – a High Performance Sports Precinct, Stadium Precinct, Residential Precinct, and Commercial and Mixed-Use Precinct.

According to The Australian, today’s (Friday’s) announcement will allow the project to commence in earnest through WMG securing a A$50m debt facility from Johnson Controls. In 2022, WMG and Western United executive chairman Jason Sourasis said WMG needed to raise a further A$50m in order to get the project fully started.

Funding for the rest of the project will derive from the PPP deal with Wyndham Council and Melbourne developer YourLand, along with private investors.

Sourasis said in a statement today: “We’re absolutely delighted to work alongside some of the leading Australian and international property partners for this groundbreaking project, which will deliver both economic and social benefits to Melbourne’s West and, more broadly, the state of Victoria.

“YourLand Developments’ experience in creating sustainable communities, where people aspire to live and work, aligns perfectly to the values of our region and was therefore a natural partner. YourLand has a proud legacy in Melbourne’s west, delivering over 2,500 lots as well as town centres, parks, open spaces and wetlands, in addition to commercial assets.

“Johnson Controls is one of the world’s best technology partners with demonstrable expertise in smart, healthy and sustainable development, including international sports and entertainment projects.”

While United is expected to begin play at its 5,000-capacity second stadium and training ground later this year, the 15,000-seat stadium is projected to be ready during the 2026-27 season.

Sourasis added: “This is truly the most exciting project in Melbourne’s sporting landscape and will create only the second A-League broadcast compliant, rectangular stadium in the state. As one of the newest football teams in the Australian domestic league, creating a welcoming and safe space for our fans is our top priority and this project will set our club up for the long-term.”  

The project will be phased over the coming years, and delivery of Australia’s first health and wellness focused city will open in stages over the next decade.

The venture dates back to December 2018, when key stakeholders behind the successful bid to bring an A-League expansion franchise to Western Melbourne revealed further details concerning their new stadium plans, which they said would be a “game-changer” not just for football, but for Australian sport as a whole.

United currently plays its home games at AAMI Park and Mars Stadium.