The Hawthorn Football Club today made a bold statement about its long-term future and direction following the unveiling of the site of its new multi-million dollar training and administrative headquarters at Waverley Park.
The Hawks will shift from their spiritual home at Glenferrie to the Heritage-listed Waverley Park early next year.
The Premier of Victoria, the Honourable Steve Bracks, Hawthorn president Ian Dicker, Mirvac chief executive Brett Draffen and AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou attended the official contract signing ceremony today in the stadium's Sir Kenneth Luke Stand.
Hawthorn players and coaches will enjoy world-class training facilities when the eight-bay Waverley Park Stadium development is completed in February 2006.
Hawthorn FC president Ian Dicker said the move to Waverley was a long term, strategic decision by the club.
"Over the past four years, the Hawthorn board has been looking at improving training facilities for coaching and playing staff," Dicker said. "A partnership with property developer Mirvac, the AFL and the State Government has now made that possible.
"We are genuinely excited about the prospect, and now the reality, of being able to provide players with world-class training facilities. We feel that our aims of sustained and long-term success, on and off the field, will be possible by providing our people with superior surrounds.
"Apart from the opportunity for Hawthorn, Mirvac has also met heritage guidelines, with the preservation of the Sir Kenneth Luke Stand - which will be a wonderful reminder of the history of Waverley Park. The mosaic mural and the players' race have also been retained and offer friendly reminders of the 'old' Waverley."
Waverley Park is one of the largest residential developments built by the one developer in Australia and the first to include a world-class sporting facility and professional football club.
When completed, Waverley Park will feature up to 1500 residences and be home to approximately 4000 people. Currently, more than 200 homes have been completed and settled, with more than 400 residents now living in Waverley Park, 23km east of Melbourne.
Mirvac chief executive Brett Draffen said Waverley Park is one of the most ambitious projects the major property developer has embarked upon.
"We are proud of this unique development - and are thrilled at the fact Hawthorn is making Waverley Park its home," Draffen said.
"It is the largest residential project ever seen in Australia by the one developer. We are creating, in effect, an entire new suburb. Up to 1500 houses are planned to be constructed, along with roads, recreational facilities and parklands.
"Waverley Park will remain significant not only because it's a unique integrated development - but also because it will be keeping its AFL history alive."
Redeveloping the existing structure was not the easy option. Mirvac took on the challenge wholeheartedly in the interests of preserving the AFL history for the community.
Mirvac has managed to retain eight bays of the stadium, grandstand seating, preserving the historic mural and players' race, while developing the state-of-the-art community asset. The company will be also developing an interpretive heritage trail - which the general public will be able to visit to learn about Waverley's football past.
Mirvac and the Hawthorn FC are also delighted to announce that they have secured a long term sponsorship agreement.
Mirvac and the Hawks will be involved in a number of marketing and corporate initiatives including clinics, player appearances, open days and promotions until 2014, when the massive residential development is expected to be completed.
The Hawthorn FC expects to shift its training and administration headquarters to Waverley Park by March 2006, with Hawthorn's fit-out of the Sir Kenneth Luke Stand to commence in September this year.
Mirvac and the Hawthorn FC have collaborated on the procurement of the site, with the Hawks responsible for the open-plan fit out, IT server room, the merchandise and membership areas.
The football department will occupy two levels of the Sir Kenneth Luke Stand with access to facilities including a gymnasium, 50m indoor running track, video rooms, treatment and rehabilitation rooms, a 25m three-lane pool, offices and lecture theatres.
Club administration will occupy Level 3, while a merchandise store will be located on a mezzanine as you enter the club from the ground floor.
A granulated sand running track, similar to the one at Melbourne's Royal Botanical Gardens, will surround the re-configured MCG-sized oval.