Bigger stadium to book Melbourne’s sporting reputation
Melbourne’s next world class stadium will be expanded to accommodate over 31,000 fans thanks to an agreement reached with Melbourne Victory and the Football Federation of Australia.
Premier Steve Bracks said the agreement boosted Melbourne’s credentials to host extra soccer matches such as international ‘friendly’ matches or games against clubs from overseas in addition to matches during the normal A-League season.
“This is the best possible deal for soccer, rugby league and rugby union fans,” Mr Bracks said.
“The new stadium will be a significant addition to Victoria’s world-renowned sporting facilities. For the first time Victoria’s soccer fans will be able to watch A-League games in a purpose-built stadium.”
Mr Bracks said work on the $268 million stadium will begin later this year and is expected to be complete by the end of 2009.
An average of seven soccer games, including Melbourne Victory A League games and other international and national soccer matches, will be played every year at the new stadium. Another five games per year will be played at the Telstra Dome, taking advantage of its capacity to hold crowds of more than 50,000.
Minister for Sport and Recreation, James Merlino, said the announcement was designed to grow soccer in Victoria even further.
“Soccer has enjoyed an amazing 12 months in this state and we hope to strengthen this success with a bigger stadium,” Mr Merlino said.
“The completion of the larger rectangular stadium, together with Telstra Dome and the MCG, will result in Melbourne having the World’s best suite of Stadiums able to cater for all football codes. This will reinforce Melbourne’s reputation as the sporting capital of the nation.”
Minister for Major Projects, Theo Theophanous, said he was pleased the stadium would now be built to provide seating for more than 31,000 fans, up from 20,000 seats as originally planned.
“This will be the best soccer stadium Victoria has ever had. We have worked very hard to design a modern stadium that meets the needs of Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Victory, the Australian Rugby Union, the Football Federation of Australia and the Melbourne Football Club,” Mr Theophanous said.
Melbourne Victory will also join the Bracks Government and the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) in their Victorian Community Football Program. The program will enable Victory players to pass on their knowledge and expertise to school children across Victoria, including in the regions, to ensure future generations of soccer players.