Lakeside Stadium could become the next A-League venue with South Melbourne set to formally apply for a license to the national league.
South Melbourne last played at national level in the final year of the NSL in 2004 and are the current NPL Victoria champions.
The club has indicated it’ll play all games excluding local derbies at the Albert Park venue. While there are no immediate plans to increase the 12,000 capacity, additional seating may be installed to increase it from the current 7,400. There are renovations currently taking place within the main grandstand including major works on the social club, shop and exclusive restaurant and bar areas.
If it was to eventuate, South Melbourne would undoubtedly have the best stadium deal in the league. The club has a 40-year lease on the venue and says it requires a crowd of only 1,500 to break even. They’ve indicated they already have the required $5m capital and expects to average crowds of over 10,000 in its opening season.
While the stadium deal is a good one for the club, it’s fair to say Lakeside Stadium doesn’t offer the best viewing for fans. The venue re-opened in 2011 following a major redevelopment which included the addition of an athletics track, pushing fans further back from the playing arena. The main grandstand offers great viewing but has seating only for around 3,500 while the newer grandstand has a similar capacity but is difficult to see the pitch from the front few rows.
Lakeside Stadium is Victoria's primary athletics venue and will be the centre of attention for three nights in February when Usain Bolt comes to town for Nitro Athletics.
Football Federation Australia has indicated it’s a priority of theirs to expand the A-League in the near future and will soon announce criteria for prospective clubs.
Many clubs/locations have expressed interest in gaining an A-League license, including (including possible venues):
Brisbane Strikers – Perry Park
North Queensland – 1300SMILES Stadium
Canberra – GIO Stadium
Tasmania – UTAS Stadium
Wollongong Wolves – WIN Stadium
West Adelaide – Coopers Stadium
South Sydney – Southern Cross Group Stadium
South Melbourne – Lakeside Stadium
Other locations mentioned at some point include Geelong, Ipswich, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Darwin, Cairns, Perth and Auckland.