The timing couldn’t be any better for the Western Bulldogs’ foray into Ballarat.
As the club embarks on what could be a long and sustained period as a benchmark team – starting with the 2016 AFL premiership – it will also prepare to bring home and away matches to Eureka Stadium from 2017.
The aftermath of Saturday’s grand final has seen the prominence of the move rise yet again, with Ballarat mayor Des Hudson conceding that there is a special significance in having a reigning premier branch out to the city.
“They don’t just come here as the Western Bulldogs, they come here as champions and premiers,” Cr Hudson said.
“It’s just an amazing story. There will be a whole lot more people from Ballarat who will join the bandwagon.
“Having witnessed and seen the volume of blue, red and white (over the past week), it’s clear that everyone has put their own colours aside.”
Wendouree MP Sharon Knight said next year’s match at Eureka Stadium presents a massive opportunity to showcase Ballarat the city.
“We’re going to have so many people in our city and we’ll be able to show it off,” she said.
“This is what state governments should do – invest in the kind of infrastructure that we can show off.”
Both Ms Knight and Cr Hudson also paid tribute to the Dogs’ community programs, with the likes of the Sons of the West men’s health program and Bulldogs Read literacy initiative for children already having an impact at local level and only expected to become more popular.
“There’s another really important side to this and it’s the amazing work that Brett Goodes is doing (as the club’s Ballarat engagement manager),” Ms Knight said.