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Lakeside Oval may make a return

Published: Saturday 10th April 2010  |  More News

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A piece of Melbourne sporting history is on the verge of returning, as the state government prepares to restore the Lakeside Oval to the city's sporting lexicon.

With the demolition of parts of the Bob Jane Stadium to begin soon and construction of a new $50 million-plus athletics stadium on the Albert Park site, returning the original name of South Melbourne's former VFL home rests with the government's willingness to compensate Bob Jane, the naming rights holder.

Athletics chiefs, who will control the new facility, want to name it the State Athletics Centre at Lakeside Oval. But the cost of replacing the tyre company's long-term naming deal is estimated at $200,000.

The state government would have to shoulder that cost, with negotiations under way. ''We are hoping the government will return it to the Lakeside Oval,'' Athletics Australia chairman Rob Fildes said.

''It might end up the Bob Jane Oval if they can't do a deal.''

Athletics was forced to move from its traditional home at Olympic Park to make way for the Collingwood Football Club.

The original cost of the refurbishment - $50.3 million - covered demolition and construction of new grandstands and a three-storey administration building as well as an Olympic standard track.

A request for an extra $5 million for improved lighting, a video replay scoreboard and other improvements has been ticked off by Sports Minister James Merlino and is now awaiting final approval by Treasury, The Age understands.

Athletics Australia is likely to make its headquarters at the new facility if the changes are made. Victorian athletics and the Victorian Institute of Sport have already agreed to be based at the site.

South Melbourne Soccer Club will remain in the Bob Jane-branded western-side grandstand and will return to play matches at the refurbished facility after an 18-month construction period.

Athletics Australia will enter the new facility with new leadership after chief executive Danny Corcoran announced his departure for the Melbourne Rebels Super 15 franchise.

A committee is seeking a top candidate. ''We want the best,'' Fildes said.

 
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