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Upgrade Etihad, don't demolish it, says McLachlan

Late apology, Magpie scare, Punt Rd pitch Nat Edwards with the latest news
AFL 2010 Media - Etihad Stadium 280710
Gillon McLachlan has backed Etihad Stadium's future as an AFL venue
With an upgrade you could open up the stadium and have it face out as much as in
Gillon McLachlan on Etihad Stadium

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has described Etihad Stadium as a great asset that would be relatively cheap to upgrade amid debate about the future of the stadium.

He told 3AW on Friday the stadium, which hosted its first AFL game in 2000, framed the city well, providing an alternative to the MCG on the western side of the central business district. 

McLachlan did agree that changes would need to be made in the future to ensure Etihad did not become an obstacle to linking the CBD and the Docklands precinct.

Etihad purchase an AFL priority: Newbold

"With an upgrade you could open up the stadium and have it face out as much as in," McLachlan said. 

The AFL is open to buying Etihad in 2016 if the right price can be negotiated, but is prepared to wait until 2025 when it would claim ownership for $30.

Debate about the stadium's future was sparked when Collingwood president Eddie McGuire suggested demolishing it and building a modern venue in the Melbourne Park precinct.

Richmond CEO Brendon Gale confirmed on Friday the Tigers were open to a third stadium being developed in the Punt Road area in addition to Etihad.

McLachlan said state and local governments should be involved in discussions about Etihad Stadium's future, describing it as a community asset.

"Funding becomes critical. Our industry and our clubs in Melbourne have paid for Etihad in the last 15 or 16 years, and they have done the heavy lifting there and we want to make sure that we are not going back into debt again," McLachlan said.

"So there is a discussion about funding and the government is hopefully involved in that.  We feel these are community investments and we (the AFL industry) tip $3 billion into the economy."

"It is a great debate to happen because it needs to happen," he said.