AFL coup for Ballarat

AFL GAMES could be played in Ballarat under a Labor government plan to upgrade Eureka Stadium.Yesterday Premier John Brumby pledged $30 million for the project to convert the ground into the North Melbourne Football Club's second home if Labor is re-elected on Saturday. Under the plan, the state government would spend $25million to bring Eureka Stadium up to AFL standard. The upgrade would include resurfacing the oval, new change rooms and coaching boxes and a new arena for up to 15,000 spectators.The state government would also contribute $5 million to help build a major events precinct as part of the plan.“I think this is a great opportunity for the AFL to grow the game, (a) great opportunity for North Melbourne to extend their membership, their reach (and) their involvement into this community,” Mr Brumby said.The AFL and the Kangaroos endorsed the prospect of AFL matches in Ballarat.The state government’s proposal could see Ballarat host up to four AFL home and away games a year.In a statement AFL chief executive officer Andrew Demetriou said Ballarat was “more than capable of hosting elite football games” in the future.“I have no doubt Ballarat can be home to AFL home and way games in the next two years,” Mr Demetriou said.“North Melbourne has a strong relationship with the Ballarat region that has grown significantly in recent years and this would be a great opportunity to play games in one of Australia’s fastest growing regions.”In October this year Ballarat City Council unveiled plans for an $80 million for a staged redevelopment of a new sports and entertainment precinct at Eureka Stadium and the Ballarat Showgrounds.Ballarat mayor Judy Verlin said the council began lobbying the state government in October last year to help fund the upgrade.Cr Verlin said the funding commitment to the precinct would help the council implement one of its “key priorities” for Ballarat.