A $190 million bubble stadium at Olympic Park will be home to Melbourne’s
top soccer and rugby league clubs.

The futuristic design will feature spheres of glass in triangular
panels.

It will seat 20,000 spectators undercover with the ability to increase
capacity to 25,000.

The new playing home for rugby league team Melbourne Storm and soccer
club Melbourne Victory will be finished by 2009.

It will also house the Melbourne Football Club administration.

Premier Steve Bracks yesterday committed $149 million of taxpayer
funds to the stadium.

The remainder will come from the Melbourne Olympic Park Trust, its
tenants and suppliers.

Mr Bracks said the stadium would rival Southern Cross station as an
architectural landmark and fill a missing link in the city’s suite
of world class sporting centres.

“We expect crowd sizes for soccer and rugby to increase,” he said.

Current crowd sizes for rugby league and soccer at Olympic Park reach
between 10,000 and 15,000.

“We wanted to meet the needs of those two football codes . . . as
well as providing important facilities for other sports,” Mr Bracks
said.

He denied the money could be better used on local sporting centres,
saying the state could do both.

The new stadium will boast a four-lane swimming pool, an elite training
centre, cafes, bars and a hall of fame.

It will be built on the Edwin Flack Field, the old greyhound racing
track now used as a training ground by Collingwood.

Collingwood and the Demons will be given new training areas at nearby
ovals in Gosch’s Paddock.

Collingwood’s administration will remain at the Lexus Centre.

The stadium will also house the Victorian Olympic Council, Victorian
Rugby Union, Tennis Victoria, the Football Federation of Victoria
and Olympic Park Sports Medicine.

Construction is expected to start this year.

Cox Architects design director Patrick Ness said the cutting edge
design would offer the best possible facilities for both spectators
and players.

“It gives the people of Victoria a sense of a future that is filled
with opportunity rather than repetition of the past,” he said.

“We’ve moved from an industrial past to a new organic and sculptural
future, a living, breathing stadium.”

The glass panels and louvres will allow maximum natural light and
ventilation to keep the turf playing surface healthy.

Melbourne Olympic Park Trust chairman Alan Oxley said development
would help boost the number of visitors to the precinct, which last
year attracted 1.9 million, including 1.2 million for non-sporting
events such as concerts.

The ground got the thumbs up from Storm half Cooper Cronk.

“It’s marvellous,” Cronk said.

“It’s going to be a great stadium for spectators and for us to play
football.”

Opposition major projects spokeswoman Louise Asher said Mr Bracks
first announced the stadium a year ago and said it would be finished
by 2008.

“Given the Bracks Government’s track record on major projects, Victorians
should not hold their breath on the stadium being completed
by 2009,” Ms Asher said.

Mr Bracks admitted the cost to taxpayers could be even higher.

He said the final cost would not be known until a builder was chosen
and deals completed with potential tenants, suppliers and sponsors,
including naming rights.

The Melbourne Olympic Park Trust will raise its share through borrowings
to be offset by sponsorship and tenancy deals.

Olympic Park was built as a centre for athletics, swimming and cycling
for the 1956 Olympics.

Editorial, Page 24

Copyright 2006 / Herald Sun

27th December 2014

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