The new-look redeveloped Simonds Stadium hosted its first AFL game under lights last Saturday evening with Geelong defeating the Gold Coast Suns in front of over 30,000 fans.
The first event marked the completion of stage three of the Geelong venue, which includes the 9,340-seat Players Stand, four light towers and video scoreboard. The stage was funded with federal, state, local government and club money.
The four new light towers stand approximately 73 metres tall, dominating the Geelong skyline. Each tower contains 101 light fittings but can cater for up to 130 for future proofing. They are capable of producing broadcast quality lighting levels of 1400 lux.
The new lights came at a cost of $10 million. So far, about $104 million has been spent on transforming Simonds Stadium during the first three stages, which includes about $80 million of government funding. Stages four and five which include new grandstands at the other end of the ground are expected to cost at least a further $130 million.
Although Geelong is unlikely to host more than eight AFL games per season at the venue in the near future, Cats CEO Brian Cook is adamant that the investment in the stadium will greatly benefit the city of Geelong.
"We've done some recent studies through Deloitte, and every game now raises around $4 million in economic impact," he said.
The new Players Stand, which replaced the old Doug Wade Stand, boasts a past players and officials lounge with a memorabilia area, a community wellness and education centre, and enhanced spectator amenities. Its 9,340 seating capacity increases the capacity of the stadium to 34,074.
Some cost-cutting had to occur after original estimates for the cost of the new stand fell some $12m short, with the actual cost over $42m. As a result, some cuts were made including the capacity reduced by 1,000, supporters lounge removed and the use of steel instead of concrete.
Beside the new Players Stand is the new 120 sq m video scoreboard, while new LED advertising signs have also been installed on the arena fence.
Simonds Stadium is now better suited to attract more non-AFL events. Previously it has host pre-season rugby league, union and soccer matches.