THE AFL has sought Victorian Government support for an ambitious project that would redevelop Etihad Stadium and turn Melbourne’s Docklands precinct into a sports and entertainment hub.
Under the proposal – contingent on the AFL’s early purchase of the stadium – the State Government would contribute hundreds of millions of dollars towards transforming the area.
It is believed the AFL met with representatives from the government last month to pitch for state support to buy the stadium and regenerate the Docklands precinct.
The upgrade project would help secure the financial future of the stadium’s tenants, including those from non-AFL sports.
AFL clubs North Melbourne, Carlton, St Kilda, Essendon and the Western Bulldogs are tenants. Melbourne Victory (A-League) and Melbourne Renegades (T20 Big Bash League) also play at the venue.
The proposal would also include the creation of new community green space, open access to the arena for community-based health and lifestyle-focused activities and provide support for existing retailers and entertainment providers.
The AFL is set to take ownership of Etihad Stadium in 2025, but is believed to be in negotiations with stadium manager Melbourne Stadiums Limited to purchase the venue earlier.
The AFL’s proposal follows several plans floated earlier this year, including one that would see Etihad Stadium knocked down and a new boutique football venue built next to the MCG as a replacement.
The new proposal would be achieved for a fraction of the cost of other stadium plans, and would also guarantee Victoria remaining the country’s leading state for sports and entertainment events.
The AFL declined to comment.