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Rival clubs can host at Cattery, says Cook

Adam McNicol  May 31, 2013 7:00 AM

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The newly redeveloped Simonds Stadium should soon be considered Victoria's third national stadium, Brian Cook says

GEELONG has signalled that it is likely to oppose any future push for a third AFL venue in Melbourne, with the club adamant that clubs should be encouraged to host low-drawing matches at the developed Simonds Stadium.

The Cats have one of the most lucrative stadium deals in the competition, and it will become even more profitable now that the new Players Stand has increased the capacity from around 26,000 to 33,500.

"We don't actually see a need for much else to be developed," Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said prior to the Cats holding their first training session under lights on Thursday evening.

"This is going to be a magnificent, for want of a better word, 'boutique' stadium … and it's going to have a great return for anyone who plays here.

"So we think that economically it makes a lot of sense to come down."

The Cats are set to make a profit of around $1 million from each home game at Simonds Stadium this year.

And Cook is adamant that clubs like the Western Bulldogs or North Melbourne, who make a loss on many of their games at Etihad Stadium, could substantially improve their financial situation by hosting games in Geelong.

"Our position has been that we would love to see some other AFL clubs come down here and play," he said.

"We think the take-home pay for them would be substantial, and I think it would be good for them to do that."

Simonds Stadium has been transformed in the past nine years, with $104 million spent on the venue during that time.

As a result, no one laughs when Cook makes statements like, "our aim is to make this the third national stadium in Victoria, behind the MCG and Etihad Stadium."

But it was a far different story when he was handed the job of rescuing the club and its home ground in 1999.

"When I first arrived there was basically two stands and a tin shed, which was our past players' area," Cook recalled.

"I remember going on one of the radio shows and saying we're going to have a stadium that is fully rooved with a 35,000 capacity – and at the time we had $10 million debt, too – and I remember the commentator nearly choked.

"It gives me great joy now to say, 'We're nearly there.'

"We've come from a situation where we had a completely dilapidated stadium. The AFL were keen for us to move to Etihad Stadium.

"We didn't know if we could make it work, but we've just hung in there long enough and become successful over a decade or so, on the field and off the field, to the extent that we can now saw that we're very proud of what we have.

"We say that humbly and with respect, but we are so happy where we are at this stage compared to 1999."

The Cats are aiming to redevelop the northern and western sides of the stadium in the coming decade, and the club is already in talks with various levels of government about funding.

Adam McNicol covers Geelong news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter at @AFL_AdamMcNicol