SENIOR North Melbourne players have urged all stakeholders involved in the campaign to develop Eureka Stadium into an AFL ground and stadium to make it happen and say there’s no reason why it wouldn’t succeed.
Speaking at a civic reception at the Ballarat Town Hall yesterday marking the start of a two-day community camp, veteran forward Drew Petrie said games held at Eureka Stadium would be a huge hit with supporters and locals alike.
“In my time at North Melbourne we’ve played home games in Canberra, the Gold Coast and Hobart and the size of crowds we got at those venues were huge, you could easily get crowds like that at Eureka,” Petrie said.
“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t happen and with the right amenities and fixtures you could get 20,000 people or more there.”
Petrie admitted it would take a lot of work from many stakeholders, but said the AFL showcasing NAB games at Eureka was a positive sign.
“If the NAB games continue to gain support and everyone, not just North Melbourne supporters, get behind it, it will happen.”
North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow, who knows the Eureka turf well after playing most of the 2008 season with the Roosters, agreed it was only matter of time before AFL games were a regular occurrence at Eureka Stadium.
“We’ve been pushing very hard to make it happen and everyone involved really hopes it will,” he said.
“I think it will still take a couple of years but ultimately will happen.”
Swallow said Eureka was a good ground to play on with a nice surface and lots of space.
In his first week on the job, newly appointed North Melbourne CEO Carl Dilena said he would meet with City of Ballarat CEO Anthony Schinck in the coming weeks to discuss how to get the initiative moving, but said it was crucial to obtain both federal and state funding.
The proposed redevelopment would potentially cost tens of millions of dollars.
In the 2011 state election campaign, the Labor government pledged $30 million for a major upgrade to Eureka Stadium, yet lost the election.