GEELONG leaders believe the realisation of a 20-year dream to modernise Kardinia Park creates the potential to host AFL finals, more elite cricket and a wider range of events.
The Labor Government has promised to deliver the $102 million final stage of the stadium’s redevelopment, if it was re-elected in November.
The project would replace the space for 8000 fans in the ageing Ford Stand and Ablett Terrace with a new 14,000 capacity two-tier northern stand.
Cricket stands to be a big winner of the fifth stage of works, with the build to allow more domestic and international cricket and provide high-class training facilities.
In Geelong for the announcement, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said he was buoyed by the creation of a new regional cricket hub.
To be built around the precinct’s existing cricket nets, it would provide new indoor and outdoor facilities for both elite and local players.
“The commitment to deliver a regional cricket hub... including an indoor training centre and other key facilities, is a great win for cricket in the Barwon region,” Mr Sutherland said.
“It is something that is much needed, as we know there is a great level of talent and enthusiasm around cricket in this community.”
The premier Geelong Cricket Club would also get new change rooms and social rooms, and gain access to the Fred Flanagan Room.
New unisex change rooms and facilities to cater to women’s sport, and the creation of a new sports museum, would also be included.
A key component of the project is the creation of better pitch access, which would aid in the delivery of drop-in cricket pitches.
The State Government said the improved access would also allow for major events, such as Disney on Ice or monster truck jams.
Kardinia Park Stadium Trust CEO Michael Brown confirmed a multimedia event with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra would be performed at the ground next March.
The MSO would provide a live soundtrack to a classic film that would be projected on the big screens, Mr Brown said.
He said the Trust was relentlessly pursuing a wide variety of activities.
“We’re in discussions with every sport and a whole lot of promoters about what we can do in Geelong.
“We’re looking to establish somewhere between 8-10 major events (annually).”
Geelong Cats CEO Brian Cook said “it had been a very long journey” towards the end of the five-stage rebuild of the venue.
“We actually started the vision of a redeveloped stadium back in 1999,” he said.
“So 20 years later, the complete vision comes to fruition.”
Mr Cook said the upgrade to a 40,000-capacity stadium, which he forecast would be the best regional venue in the country, provided impetus for the club’s push to host AFL finals.
“I would hope that our chances increase dramatically.
“(It) will give us some much more possibility of attracting great events outside of footy, which is exciting as well.”
Work will start after the ICC World T20 matches being held at Kardinia Park in late 2020, with construction to finish in 2022.