CLUBS are at risk of becoming caught up in an 'arms race' for better facilities to ensure they remain an attractive destination for players in the free agency era, Geelong CEO Brian Cook says.
The experienced administrator said that fact hit home when free agent James Frawley told the Cats that one of the reasons he had decided to join Hawthorn was because of their training setup.
"That is the first time that reason [has been used]," Cook told AFL.com.au.
"And we take that on board and understand it completely."
Club investment in facilities has grown enormously in recent seasons with several clubs either moving into new facilities or looking at alternative training facilities.
Essendon opened the True Value Solar Centre at the end of 2013, Collingwood upgraded the Westpac Centre around the same time and Hawthorn is understood to be assessing options for future training facilities within its strategic plan.
St Kilda was hopeful of becoming part of the Junction Oval redevelopment until recently and continues to assess the viability of Moorabbin and its current base at Seaford.
Melbourne has conceded that while happy with its training facilities at AAMI Park, it would be commercially prudent for it to examine where it might be located a decade from now.
West Coast has plans to move to Lathlain Park east of Perth's CBD while the Brisbane Lions have set up a working party to assess where they should train in the future.
Geelong recently won funding from the Victorian state government to complete stage four of its rebuilding phase, which will see the football department and clubrooms upgraded as part of the redevelopment of the Brownlow Stand at Simonds Stadium.
It met with local council on Tuesday night in relation to their involvement in stage four and continues to meet with the AFL.
The club has also indicated a desire to work with other relevant parties within the Simonds Stadium precinct to establish an expanded training facility there.
"The priority for us is to stay at Simonds (Stadium), with training, playing and administration under the same roof," Cook said. "We need to identify what can be housed in stage four and five and then ask the question 'what else do we need to do over the next 20 years?'"
Members were notified at the Geelong AGM in December that plans to create a training venue at the Armstrong Creek development had been shelved.
The club recently appointed an architect, quantity surveyor and project manager to continue with stage four planning at Simonds Stadium and remains hopeful it will commence work at the end of the season.
The state government has also promised to create a Kardinia Park trust led by former premier Steve Bracks, which will take over Geelong's lead responsibility for lobbying, promoting and luring events and construction in the precinct.
MCC CEO Stephen Gough and Deakin University vice-chancellor Jane De Hollander have joined a working group to set up the trust, with parties hopeful it will be in place around October.
Geelong has had success in luring players in recent seasons with Jared Rivers and Sam Blease joining as free agents and a series of trades bringing in Hamish McIntosh, Josh Caddy, Mitch Clark and Rhys Stanley.
The Cats remain linked to exciting Adelaide midfielder Patrick Dangerfield who is set to become a free agent.