Hosting St Kilda matches on Casey agenda
Casey Council will up its bid to house St Kilda Football Club with the long-term lure of a stadium capable of hosting AFL matches. City of Casey chief executive Mike Tyler said Casey Fields, in Cranbourne East, would be equipped to host Saints matches against interstate teams by 2015.
Teac Oval in Port Melbourne, Junction Oval in St Kilda (both in Port Phillip City - about the most left wing Council in Australia) and Casey Fields are the frontrunners to be the new home of St Kilda, which revealed this week it would be leaving its 42-year base at Moorabbin. "Long term, it is possible we might end up with a small, boutique stadium that could accommodate a St Kilda versus interstate team match," Tyler said. "We've lost Waverley (Park), and that disappointed a lot of people. (que for HD) Look, it would be quite expensive and council wouldn't have the funds to develop it, but Casey Fields has the possibility of developing in to that in the future. "I am quite sure no one, 10 or 15 years ago, would have thought York Park (in Launceston) would have developed the way it has. "We know that it can be accommodated."
Tyler said the Casey region had expanded rapidly and was equipped to house the Saints. "We want to see an AFL team out here," Tyler said. "It is worth remembering we will get as big as Canberra, in 15 years. "Our population at the moment is 230,000 and that will grow to 350. In this part of Melbourne, there needs to be elite sport, for the sense of pride for the community and the other benefits an AFL club brings to an area. We haven't spoken to St Kilda since they made their announcement during the week, but they are aware of our situation.
"Obviously, I wrote to them when we applied for the permit (to allow construction of a training and administration base for an AFL club) and after it was issued (in January). We knew they were in negotiations with Kingston (council) and we didn't seek to undermine those negotiations, but now they've come out and said they are leaving Moorabbin, well, they have to go somewhere and Casey Fields is an obvious location."
More than $15 million has been spent on Casey Fields, with another $15 million allocated for the venue in the next eight years. It is roughly the size of the Albert Park precinct and by the time of completion will boast 17 playing fields (a mixture of oval and rectangular configurations), 12 tennis courts and a 2.5km bicycle track. A $37 million sports and leisure centre is located one kilometre away.
"There is fantastic growth out here with a lot of families and it will continue to be an area fertile for additional (football club) membership," Tyler said.