Geelong's mini MCG
GeelongFootball Club has unveiled plans to transform Skilled Stadium into a 36,000-capacity colosseum.
In a multi-million dollar bid to secure the Cats' long-term future in Geelong, president Frank Costa said the club would build a northern stand and extend the old Reg Hickey Stand so it joined up with the eastern stand like a mini MCG.
He said the Ross Drew Stand and the Past Players' Stand would be demolished to make way for the southern end extension, while the new northern stand would be built behind the Gary Ablett Terrace.
Costa said the club hoped to start construction in about three years' time, if it can secure adequate funding from the state and federal governments in partnership with the AFL and City of Greater Geelong.
''To ensure that football will continue to be played here, we have to move forward,'' Costa told the Advertiser.
''We can't stand still, otherwise we will be under pressure to play more games in Melbourne and we want it to be the other way around.''
''So the development will be ideal for Geelong because it will give us a colosseum-style ground with at least 36,000 capacity.''
''There will be grandstand seating right around the ground.''
Costa, who spoke earlier at a civic reception welcoming the Cats on their Community Camp in Warrnambool, said the development would be split into two separate five-year stages, beginning with the southern end extension.
The Brownlow and Ford stands will remain, while the club has also promised to ensure that at least 5000 standing room tickets will be available when the project is complete about 2020.
Costa said the club's remarkable financial turnaround under chief executive Brian Cook has meant that it was only now able to properly cater for projected record membership and seat sales, on the back of successive finals appearances.
''We are already up seven per cent on membership this year but we have to increase the capacity otherwise people will say what's the point of buying a membership if I can't get a seat?'' he said.
''So it's a good pressure to be under because if we want to increase membership we have to better facilities.''
As well as securing the club's long-term future as the AFL's regional hub in Victoria, Costa said the Geelong community was also set to directly benefit from the economical flow-on of the stadium's increased capacity.
He said once complete, the Skilled upgrade would help attract more events to Geelong, including first-class cricket matches, concerts and more Geelong home games.
''If we work together we will be able to get more events at the stadium,'' he said.
Costa said Geelong would not start construction until the last $3 million of its current re-development debt was paid off to the Bendigo Bank in 2008-2009.