$150m upgrade for Mars Stadium ahead of 2026 Commonwealth Games
Ballarat’s Mars Stadium will receive a significant $150 million upgrade as it prepares to host the track and field events for the Victorian 2026 Commonwealth Games.
A new athletics track will be built at the site and the stadium’s permanent seating capacity will be increased by 5,000 up to 11,000, with improved accessibility access.
For the Commonwealth Games, an additional 18,000 temporary seats will be installed at the venue to boost capacity to around 30,000, while an international-standard athletics track will be installed on the existing playing field.
The regional venue, known non-commercially as Eureka Stadium, will host Athletics and Para Athletics, with Ballarat’s sports program to also include the Marathon and Boxing, while Mountain Bike Racing will be staged within the 60kms of trails in Creswick.
Mars Stadium was transformed in 2017 to host AFL matches, with the Western Bulldogs playing two home & away matches at Ballarat each season. The venue also hosts occasional A-League (Western United), Super Rugby (Melbourne Rebels) and WBBL matches.
Additional upgrades were carried out at the venue last year including new permanent entrances, food and beverage outlets, permanent toilets for the southern end and upgraded unisex player change rooms.
The Minister for Commonwealth Games Delivery Jacinta Allan said, “We're investing in Eureka Stadium to ensure it’s a world-class venue not just for Victoria 2026 but for decades to come.”
The 2026 Commonwealth Games were announced for Victoria in April, with all events to be held in regional cities, with the exception of the opening and closing ceremonies which will be staged at the MCG.
The fifth Commonwealth Games to be staged in Australia will take place across four regional hubs: Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland, each containing an athletes’ village, while Shepparton will also host events.
Ballarat has a decorated history in long-distance running, most notably as the birthplace of Steve Moneghetti who won gold in the Marathon at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
The Games village location has also been locked in at the Ballarat Saleyards and will be a home-away-from-home for about 1,800 athletes and officials.
The local community will see a long-term investment in vital housing and community infrastructure in line with the Ballarat Urban 2040 core strategy.
The village will be designed in consultation with the local community and Traditional Owners, celebrating the rich culture of the Wadawurrung people and Ballarat’s iconic attractions, experiences and people.
Ballarat will also host a major festival alongside the Commonwealth Games, making the most of the region’s vibrant festival culture. The city is already synonymous for White Night, Springfest and the FOTO Biennale and this artistic flair will be on show to the world during the Games through renowned institutions like the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
The Victorian Government is also investing $50 million to upgrade Ballarat’s historic train station in a historically sensitive way, with passenger lifts on both platforms and a connecting pedestrian overpass, so spectators of all abilities can enjoy all that Victoria 2026 has to offer.