Under proposed modifications to the $70 million redevelopment of Yabba's Hill and the Doug Walters Stand at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the playing surface will be extended by 3 metres.
The extension will boost the length of the field to 152 metres, ensuring the 50-metre arc and centre square markings no longer intersect. The lengthening will not, however, be enough to erase the ground's title as the shortest in the AFL competition.
The decision to lengthen the field, on a ground traditionally considered one of the world's great cricket pitches, highlights the inroads the Swans have made since they moved from South Melbourne to Sydney in 1982, including their 2005 premiership.
"The playing field at the SCG has been lengthened to better accommodate AFL games," reads a modification application, which was prepared for the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust and has gone on exhibition at the NSW Department of Planning. The application says 400 seats will be lost from the concourse area of the original plans for the new grandstand but a trust spokesman said only about 180 seats would be lost once extra seating was added elsewhere.
The new grandstand, which is due for completion in October next year, was designed to increase the ground's capacity by about 2800 seats.
The spokesman said the new dimensions of the field would not affect cricket games, as a rope is used to indicate the boundary, rather than the fence.
The Sydney Swans have written to members seated in bay 26, at the Randwick end of the ground, advising that the first four rows will be removed as part of the lengthening process.
The 150 members directly affected by the changes are expected to be accommodated in other parts of bay 26.
Other members in the area will now be closer to the action.
The Swans general manager of football, Andrew Ireland, said: "We requested the length of the SCG to be extended so we are naturally pleased with the SCG's decision to lengthen it for the 2008 season.
"The development eventually leads to better facilities for members, so whilst the construction process was always going to be difficult, the end result will be worth it."
The SCG has played host to 300 official games of Australian Rules since 1903, when Fitzroy defeated Collingwood in the first game at the ground.
The Brisbane Lions' home ground, the Gabba, is the second shortest ground in the AFL at 156 metres. Subiaco Oval, where West Coast and Fremantle play home games, is the longest.
Submissions on the proposed modifications close on November 19.
Sydney Morning Herald