Club open to hosting AFL games at revamped Eureka Stadium

WESTERN Bulldogs are open to hosting AFL games for premiership points in Ballarat, should a multimillion-dollar proposal to redevelop the precinct come to fruition.

Bulldogs chief executive officer Simon Garlick said the club had no plans to look to Eureka Stadium as a potential secondary home-game base.

He did not rule out exploring the idea further.

“As a club our strategic focus is on the western metropolitan region of Melbourne,” Garlick said.

“While we don’t currently have any plans in relation to Ballarat, we are open to discussions with relevant stakeholders.”

The state opposition yesterday unveiled plans for a $15 million stadium upgrade – including a new grandstand, AFL-standard lights and a video scoreboard – as part of a $31.5 million precinct revamp should Labor win the November election.

North Melbourne, which has active ties with North Ballarat Football Club and the City of Ballarat, has long backed the bid to bring AFL games to Ballarat.

Fairfax Media’s Caroline Wilson yesterday wrote that the AFL had also pegged Victoria’s western corridor as having a pivotal place in its game development and there had been a push for the Western Bulldogs to target the Ballarat region.

North Melbourne and the Bulldogs continue to struggle to make a profit in home games at Etihad Stadium.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews, who visited the Ballarat ground yesterday, said he envisaged the ground becoming like stadiums used in Canberra and 

Tasmania.

“If Canberra and Tasmania and other smaller boutique grounds can have that partnership, then there is no reason why Ballarat, at the upgraded Eureka Stadium, can’t have the same thing,” he said. 

Former premier John Brumby had promised to bring Eureka Stadium to AFL standards leading into the 2010 election, but this was canned by the Baillieu government.

The City of Ballarat revised its stadium plans from 15,000 seats to a 6000-seat stadium in December, as a more appealing investment for the state government and opposition.

Stadium upgrades are part of an $80 million proposal for the Ballarat sports and entertainment precinct that extends to the Ballarat showgrounds, Wendouree Sports and Events Centre and the adjacent CE Brown Reserve, which is home to the Lake Wendouree Football Netball Club and Wendouree Cricket Club.

A NAB Challenge game between North Melbourne and Carlton drew 7800 fans in February and got the stamp of approval from Blues coach Mick Malthouse.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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