A new development for a boutique 25,000-seat AFL stadium could be put on the agenda in the next two years.
Independent Architecture and Planning Design Company, Peddle Thorp, has put forth a concept called ‘E-Gate.’
Promoting it as “environmentally responsive”, E-Gate is to be situated on the empty rail yards near Footscray Road, behind Harbour Town.
Associate of Peddle Thorp, Brett Diprose, says the idea is meant to amend the “misuse of space”.
“It is a redevelopment of space to take advantage of the redundancy of the rail yards,” he said.
Pitched originally to the previous Liberal State Government in 2013 as a joint venture, the concept failed to gain momentum due to funding arrangements and a change in leadership.
After sitting on the backburner in recent years, Diprose says he can see the concept being put forth again in the next two or three years.
A new boutique stadium will help avoid clashes in events, much like what was seen in May between the A-League grand final and AFL at Etihad Stadium.
“We’ve seen weekends with three major events running simultaneously at Etihad, MCG and AAMI Park. It would help manage the ever-increasing demands of Melbourne and provide a flexible arrangement,” Diprose said.
The AFL has previously examined the prospect of using either Punt Road Oval or Princess Park (now Ikon Park) as a 25,000-seat stadium.
As recently as last week, Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon was strong in supporting a new boutique stadium.
Speaking to Melbourne sports radio station SEN, Gordon said it was time the AFL put in the right infrastructure for a smaller capacity ground.
“You can make really good money with a crowd of 25-30,000 people – you just need the right infrastructure,” Gordon told SEN.
Tenant clubs of Etihad Stadium such as St. Kilda, Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne need to pull crowds upwards of 30,000 to achieve meaningful revenue.
When playing at Etihad, a 53,000 capacity venue, the smaller teams are are often forced to write the stadium owners a cheque or play interstate if their crowds don’t meet the set quota.
Both the Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne have sold games in Cairns and Gold Coast respectively due to their financial situations.
Gordon revealed more money was made out of playing in front of a crowd of 10,000 in Cairns than all their home games at Etihad put together so far this year.
But Carlton historian Tony De Bolfo says boutique stadiums are not “feasible” when it comes to the fixture.
“The AFL controls who plays where, so I’m not sure there’d be too many great games at these venues,” he said.
Redeveloping current boutique stadiums could cost upwards of $100 million. De Bolfo said he believes we are still a while away from expansion.
“Never say never because dynamics change, but you’d say it’s highly unlikely when money is involved.
“It’s a dream too far,” he says.
To see the proposal of E-Gate Stadium, visit pta.com.au.