Melbourne Showgrounds Stadium
A $170-million 80,000-capacity multi-purpose stadium was proposed for the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds in mid-1996. The stadium was proposed as a replacement for Waverley Park, with other potential sites suggested including the Docklands and Olympic Park, but the State Government had ruled out Olympic Park because of traffic concerns. Essendon Football Club were to be tenants and it also had the backing of the Victorian Soccer Federation and Victorian Rugby League. The Bombers had initially shown support for a new Showgrounds home in late 1995, while the Western Bulldogs also expressed interest in becoming tenants.
The fully enclosed stadium would replace the existing Showgrounds arena and seat 60,000 people for AFL matches, and up to 80,000 for soccer and rugby league. Key features included fabric roofing over all spectator areas and a retractable central roof over the playing arena, electronic scoreboard and internal floodlighting, plus 162 superboxes catering for almost 1500 patrons. Plans were drawn up by architects Peddle Thorp, who designed Rod Laver Arena and the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Later in September 1996, a consortium including a Malaysian developer proposed a five-star hotel at the Showgrounds with a monorail link to the Maribyrnong River. In exchange for the site, they would build the multi-purpose stadium. Eventually, the proposal was dumped and the government decided to build the new stadium at Docklands, with the 56,000 Colonial Stadium opening in 2000.