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Boutique dreams: Blues aim to build on success of footy's Ikon Park return

Matt Thompson  February 29, 2016 7:00 AM

Banned Dons train, Blues' plan, Pie probe Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson with your Monday Footy Feed.

THE PUSH for a boutique-sized third AFL stadium for Melbourne could be re-ignited after Sunday's NAB Challenge success at Ikon Park.

Nearly 19,000 fans turned out to the former home-and-away venue to watch Essendon beat Carlton by 60 points.

Click here for full match coverage

AFL.com.au understands Carlton will use the success of this year's practice game to push for another NAB Challenge match at the ground in 2017.

The AFL has already ruled out hosting home and away games at the stadium, just north of the CBD, in the foreseeable future.

In its current condition, the ground simply is not fit to host a premiership season match.

The venue would need tens of million of dollars in renovations to be returned to the modern standard AFL fans expect.

But it's believed the League still sees the stadium as a valuable asset for the game and the club. 

If the Blues are going to make a pitch for funding, they're in the best possible position, as the League prepares to carve up $2.5 billion in media rights money.

The AFL has been on the record in recent years discussing the prospect of a third stadium for Melbourne.

In 2013 there was a campaign to upgrade Richmond's base at Punt Road Oval, adjacent to the MCG, but the proposal went nowhere.

At the time then AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou also declared: "Visy can work," referencing the stadium's former name.

Carlton is in the early stages of preparing a master plan for the future of its traditional home.

Due for completion towards the end of this year, the document is expected to forecast what the long-term future of the venue will be.

"Whether it can become a premiership venue in the future is an option we'd like to keep open, no doubt," Blues chief executive Steven Trigg told SEN Radio on Monday morning.

"Whilst it's a little unlikely at the moment in terms of the cost and where the AFL is strategising, it's almost as if everything old is new again in the AFL," he said responding to AFL.com.au's report.

"We just want to keep our options open in any of our planning at the moment."

Under consideration for the Blues is using the game's growth areas as a means to invest in the facility.

The new women's league, a potential move towards full-time umpires and the focus on multicultural and indigenous academies could all assist in providing funding models for the future. 

Ikon Park is already the training base for the AFL umpires and the AFL Victoria women's academy.

It's also home to AFL Victoria's administration offices.

The AFL will acquire ownership of the 55,000-seat Etihad Stadium in 2025. 

Last week's resignation of the stadium's UK chief executive Paul Sergeant could pave the way for fresh negotiations on an early transfer of that venue into the AFL's hands.