A proposal for the AFL to sell Docklands stadium and build a 60,000-seat complex near the MCG worth $1 billion, with the proceeds of the sale to go towards game development and eliminating club debt, has been floated by Eddie McGuire.
Under the project, nearby Richmond railway station would be moved underground and a road tunnel would be built to link the sporting precinct to Punt Road.
The Collingwood Football Club president said the new stadium, which would have a retractable roof, would be built on the site of the existing Hisense Arena.
Under the current deal, the AFL will take full ownership of the stadium in 2025.
McGuire said Docklands stadium was a liability and selling it would “bulletproof” the AFL competition.
“The AFL owns [it], they have to decide what to do with it. Docklands stadium hasn’t quite worked,” he said on the Nine Network.
“There’s a chance to refigure Melbourne and get everything up in that sports and entertainment precinct, and really turn that into something that is absolutely probably the best in the world if we get it right.
“And the missing piece in the puzzle is a 50,000- to 60,000-seat stadium.
“The idea would also be that in selling that land, the AFL would be able to put $1 billion to $1.25 billion in their pockets and use that for game development, getting rid of debt in clubs and all sorts of things.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he would take a closer look at the proposal, but it should be considered by the AFL.
‘Visionary move’ to fix Docklands eyesore: economist
Dr Ross Booth from the Department of Economics at Monash University told ABC’s 774 ABC Melbourne radio the idea was “visionary”.
“Overall, I kind of like the concept. I think of the refurbishment of Adelaide Oval, and for me, Docklands stadium has never really worked,” he said.
“It really is now an awful eyesore and it does block off [the Docklands precinct].
“I think it’s visionary. An underground Richmond station and Olympic Boulevard would free up space.”
Tenant clubs at Docklands, such as St Kilda, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, have claimed the current deal between the AFL and the stadium hampers their ability to generate match-day profits.
“It’s part of the bigger picture though, because of the dissatisfaction of the clubs and tenants at Docklands,” Dr Booth said.
“Eddie being president at one of the richer clubs, they don’t like the wealth tax, they want the AFL to fund the hole in the player’s salary cap, so this is a way for them to take some of the heat out of the issue.”