WESTERN Bulldogs president Peter Gordon has reaffirmed the club’s commitment to strengthening ties in the Ballarat region and expanding Mars Stadium.
Before his keynote address at the National Economic Development Association’s gala dinner and awards night, Mr Gordon said the club is enthusiastic about its future in Ballarat.
He said the club is keen to see the stadium upgraded to fit 25,000 spectators with grandstands to allow seating for 10,000 to 15,000 people.
“While we were thrilled with the first game, it’s been over 30 years since the Dogs played in Victoria in front of a crowd as small as 11,000,” he said.
“We understand, and the state government understands, to be viable moving forward we need to grow the stadium.
“We don’t want to make a cookie-cutter of any stadium anywhere in the world and we have some unique opportunities to showcase Ballarat nationally and internationally.”
Among other plans for the ground, Mr Gordon said he wants to be able to showcase natural features such as Mount Buninyong through clever TV camera positioning.
He also suggested using Ballarat’s notoriously cold weather to the stadium’s advantage by offering open fires for spectators to gather around before and after games.
The Bulldogs have committed to playing two home games at Mars Stadium in the 2018 AFL premiership season, but Mr Gordon said that is just the beginning.
In speaking about the future of the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat, Mr Gordon related to the stories of his family’s past and used shared history as a common point between Footscray and Ballarat.
“My great-grandfather came to Ballarat in 1854 and stayed until he died; we want to mirror my great-grandfather’s business plan,” he said.
“We are committed to contributing to the City of Ballarat and in particular footy in Ballarat.
“That means we want to bring opportunities for women and men to play it and watch it.”
While the Bulldogs cannot commit to bringing any AFLW matches to Ballarat in 2018, Mr Gordon said women’s footy is high on the agenda for future matches at Mars Stadium.
He also flagged that the Bulldogs want to assist in bringing new Ballarat based footy clubs into the VFL and the VFLW to replace the North Ballarat Roosters.
“The vision of what footy in Ballarat can be is extraordinary,” Mr Gordon said.