TWO decades after making its debut in the national competition Fremantle is positioning itself as an AFL powerhouse. 

As the minor premiers head into Friday night's preliminary final against Hawthorn, they do so with a plan in place not just for this game, but for the next half-century.

At the start of the 2017 season the Dockers will move into a new training base at Cockburn Central, about 20 minutes south-west by car from their current Fremantle Oval base.

"It's in construction mode, and we're planning to move in March 2017, so that's not too far away," chief executive Steve Rosich told this week.  

"It's a significant project, it's a game changer for our football club," he said.

Former captain Peter Bell is so excited by the progress, he's running for a spot on the club's board, having seen the Dockers grow from the very beginning.

"It's been eight years since I retired, it's amazing how quickly that's gone, and so there's been a good separation since my playing days," Bell told 

"It was not without some struggles.

"In fact, as late as 2000, 2001, when Fremantle had huge debt, didn't have a whole lot of members, weren't achieving much success at all as far as wins in the competition, they were pretty dire times.

"I'm not sure how close the club got to actually perhaps even folding up and handing the license back, but it was pretty extreme.

Rosich believes the new training base, within the rapidly developing Cockburn region, will put the Dockers in a new place on the Australian football map and ahead of the game when it comes to a centre of training excellence.

"In scope and scale it does. It's three-and-a-half times the size of the next biggest facility in this country," he said.

"We're planning for the next 50 years in this facility.

"It'll have over a million visitors a year going through it. It'll be a terrific community facility that houses our elite facilities.

"It's unique and we're very proud of it."

Bell, who currently hosts an afternoon talkback radio show on Perth station 6PR, predicts the Dockers fan base is on the verge of another significant growth spurt.

"That missing piece of the jigsaw is definitely a premiership, and if that should happen, or when that happens, Fremantle will absolutely explode," Bell said.

"You'll see membership go to whole new levels.

"And this successful period will translate into kids and teenagers now taking out family memberships in the future.

"It is a massive opportunity for the club."