Eureka Stadium (Mars Stadium)

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Rob

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Rubbish, all teams get a say in where they play. But remember that the clubs are just franchisees of a franchise called the AFL. The AFL determines the game schedule but this is done in collaboration with the clubs. For instance, the Western Bulldogs (each season) indicate their preference for their two Ballarat games to be scheduled around late April or early May and later in August preferrably against Adelaide based teams. Of course not every team enjoys that benefit. Collingwood, Essendon and Carlton get the benefit of exclusive blockbuster games at the MCG.

The AFL just throws out some sweeteners to encourage teams to support games in some remote or non-traditional AFL locations with the incentive of lucrative bonusses. Think Melbourne playing games at Alice Springs and Darwin, the Suns and Port playing in Shanghai and Cairns, St Kilda playing games in Wellington and in Townsville in 2019, or GWS in Canberra. Now when you think about it, apart from Port Adelaide who don't need the money the other teams like GWS and the Suns are start up teams with very low support bases and who rely heavily on the AFL for financial support. Melbourne and St Kilda have high debts and don't enjoy a contracted multi-million dollar sponsorship agreement to play a few games per season in places like Ballarat, Launceston or Hobart like the Dogs, Hawks and Roos respectively have. The Dees, Saints, Suns and Giants with no similar arrangements to the Hawks, Roos and Dogs instead get paid handsomely by the AFL for being nomadic. Rather than being told to suck it up as you're suggesting, I'd say that those four clubs are damn happy for the extra money that the AFL pays them for being nomadic. Consider that even Port Adelaide recieved a bonus $3 million for playing in China in 2018, and they completely volunteered to do so.
I think you're confused. Almost all of those venues were arranged by the clubs themselves. Port arranged to play in China, Melbourne want to play in the NT, etc etc. I have zero problem with that - that's how it should be. They're not examples of the AFL signing up to venues and then forcing clubs to play there.

I think you've also got a short memory - remember Optus Oval? The AFL did a deal with Carlton to play 16 games a year there. The problem was that Carlton home games only made up 9 of those, and no other club wanted to play there. So the league forced clubs to host home games and likely draw poor crowds there. How can you possibly agree with that?

Even now with Docklands (although obviously the contract doesn't exist now with AFL ownership) and the MCG, the AFL sign up to play a minimum number of games without having the commitment from clubs. Great when clubs actually want to play there, but how often have you heard complaining from clubs about poor stadium returns and the like? I know a lot of that is just whining, but it clearly takes a lot of autonomy away from clubs.

In this case, it appears that the league have signed a deal with the Vic government to play games in Ballarat until some year in the future. What the league should have done is gone to the Dogs, said to them "Are you happy to commit to this"? And if the answer is yes, then fine, sign the deal. If not, ask around other clubs, but if there's no club willing to jump in, do not sign the deal. It's not a difficult position to take, and I can't see why that would be even remotely controversial.
 

Rob

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Crikey you're talking 30 years ago with Carlton, and their President at the time (John Elliot) was the only thing keeping them there at Optus until Docklands became an option and even then he fought tooth and nail to keep Carlton playing at Princess Park. The only reason Calton tried to stay at Optus was because the club had over-invested in building the "Legends Stand" back in the early 90s. Back in the 90s the AFL had some pretty shitty options when it came to grounds. Fitzroy were shunted to the Whitten Oval and then on to Princess Park. North were skipping around the country playing anywhere, Footscray even got shunted to Princess Park in 96. That was nearly 30 years ago, what Century are you talking about? Give us ONE, just ONE example where a team has been forced to play where they didn't want to play in the last ten years. Okay nobody liked playing at Subiaco, even the fans hated it, while Football Park was Adelaide's answer to Melbourne's unloved VFL Park.
The AFL did not sign a deal to play games at Subiaco or Football Park. So I don't know what you're talking about there.

The only stadiums, to my knowledge, where the AFL have committed a minimum number of games this century (without having the clubs on board) is the MCG and Docklands. And to answer your question, many clubs have complained about playing at Docklands. If you think otherwise, you've been living in a cave.

And don't dare try to use the WBFC as your example. YOU CLEARLY KNOW NOTHING of the history behind the WBFC venture into Ballarat. They wanted Ballarat and approached the AFL to support them and then Victorian Opposition Leader Dan Andrews in 2014 to commit to it if he got elected. He agreed to fund $15 million for construction of Stage 1 of Mars Stadium if he got elected. At that point the AFL only agreed to support the WBFC proposed Ballarat venture if the stadium got built first and it didn't cost the AFL a cent. That's the history of it, not your made up interpretation of it. I cannot stress strongly enough that the WBFC wanted Ballarat as far back as 2008 and ran a campaign to break North Melbourne and its highly successful and mutually beneficial parntership with the North Ballarat Roosters. The WBFC wanted Ballarat and Greater Western Victoria exclusively for themselves and NMFC being associated in the region didn't fit with their plan. The WBFC got exactly what they wanted, no argument. They are now getting a series of upgrades to Mars Stadium which aren't costing their club a cent. If they decide to extend their tenure out to 2028, that will no doubt be a re-negotiated agreement where they might lobby for increased sponsorship, or expansion of the stadium. But at the end of the day, they'll get what they negotiate for.

As for Port in China ... no ... again you are trying to re-write history. The Suns and the Saints were the first to play there and the Suns who were slated to play there again needed another opponent in 2018, and in steppeth Koschy who jumped at the opportunity for his club and said "thank you very much, Port can do with $3 mil".
I'm really not sure what point you're trying to make here. You're going completely off the rails.

You keep saying that clubs are being forced against their will and are having no say in where they play, but haven't cited one example. I presented the facts, the time lines and history while you present "the AFL signs up to venues and forces clubs to play there". WHO has been forced to play at those venues? You contradicted yourself in the opening sentence of your previous post in saying, that of those clubs asked to play at those venues. That's the truth of the modern state of play, not the 90s version that you appear to be citing.
You keep saying things that i'm not saying.

What i'm saying is this:

The AFL should only sign deals to play at stadiums when supported by clubs that are prepared to honour the deal.
If that doesn't exist, then the AFL should not sign the deal. Simple.

The only reason you would disagree with the above is that you think it's completely reasonable that the AFL commits to games when the clubs are not prepared to give that commitment. There's no middle ground here. And if that's you, then perfectly fine. We just disagree. But don't twist my words to fit into whatever batshit crazy narrative you're trying to create. It's nothing against any particular stadium, nor against any club.
 

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DeIulio2Pearce

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Mars Stadium works underway:
View attachment 1030234
It appears above that the lower part of the hill will get about eight rows of concreted standing terrace with the grass removed in preparation for concrete works.
View attachment 1030236
Permanent Gate 2 construction has commenced behind the hill and new stairs will feed spectators directly up from the gate. Permanent toilets and amenities are being constructed to the rear of the scoreboard above still allowing enough space behind the boundary for future grandstand construction.
I do love a good old fashioned terrace
 

Dogs till i die

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Mars Stadium works underway:
View attachment 1030234
It appears above that the lower part of the hill will get about eight rows of concreted standing terrace with the grass removed in preparation for concrete works.
View attachment 1030236
Permanent Gate 2 construction has commenced behind the hill and new stairs will feed spectators directly up from the gate. Permanent toilets and amenities are being constructed to the rear of the scoreboard above still allowing enough space behind the boundary for future grandstand construction.

View attachment 1030644

View attachment 1030645
Works looking good - getting the basics right first.

Let's hope the Dogs re-commit to Ballarat. Gotta say i won't miss the grassy slopes on a wet day - as nice as it looks..
 

Roogal

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Are they leaving the grassy hill area behind the goals at the showgrounds end?
My sister lives about a block from the ground and I do get to go there when I visit and catch up with a couple of old workmates at the Sports Club.

They believe that some grassed area will remain intact for the time being. I like that part of the ground too, it's nice being under the trees with the can bar behind you. Although if Stage 3 proceeds in 2024 then it's possible that the Eureka Stand may be extended around that SW boundary to where the video scoreboard is and the scoreboard will be lifted upward and incorporated into the end of the extended stand. The new toilets under construction to the rear of the scoreboard are being built back away from the boundary to allow enough space to construct a new stand. The new toilets are being designed to support around 6000. I don't think that they are building new kiosks at that end of the ground yet, they will likely be incorporated as part of a future grandstand build.

The existing main hill looks destined to be a permanent feature as they are doing a reasonable amount of work to enhance it. Considering that they had a starting budget allocation of $6.6 million and so far the contracted works have been budgeted as follows:
  • Gate 1 upgrade - $330,000 (AW Nicholson Constructions)
  • Gate 2 construction - $250,000 (Searle Bros. Constructions)
  • New toilets at Southern end - $450,000 (Searle Bros.)
  • Concreting part of the hill - $320,000 (Searle Bros.)
  • Creating rear stairs to main hill $50,000 (Searle Bros.)
  • Conversion of player changerooms as unisex facilities -$650,000 (Kane Constructions)
  • New kiosks for Eureka Stand - cost unknown (AW Nicholson)
As you can see from the above figures approx $1.97 million has been spent with roughly another $600,000 to build the new kiosks. This still leaves some $4 million for expanding the number of disabled seating areas plus plenty left over for other improvements. Personally, I'd like to see the lighting fully upgraded.
 
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beema limapep

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The staff at Mars Stadium are keen to see the stadium back in use. In 2020 because of COVID, two A League games were cancelled (Including a Good Friday Melbourne Derby between Western United and Melbourne City where they anticipated a sellout); two AFL games in May and August cancelled; as well as the local Central Highlands League and Ballarat FL competitions both being abandoned and their respective grand finals cancelled at the stadium in September.

At this stage the AFL have provisionally scheduled a senior game there for Sat 10th April against the Brisbane Lions. While it recently didn't get a JLT game, I suspect that the locals were more disappointed that the stadium was definitely overlooked by the AFL for an AFLW game despite being recently upgraded to host AFLW. The WBFC say that they are committed to the city and the region for the long haul and yes COVID 19 won't last forever. It will be interesting to see what direction the new Western Bulldogs Club President wants and how she sees the club's future, or if she shares the vision of Ballarat as part of its long term future.

At least the ground will be in great condition for its February and May A-League games given that it will have had a 10 month hiatus from any sort of use.
Has alot of potential. Its a nice intimate set up already. For what it is the Eureka stand is a cracker.
 

Roogal

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Construction on the hill starting to take shape
View attachment 1072250
Yes, look what they've done to our hill. It will improve the view of play for people in the first several rows on the hill and it remains to be seen whether they install seats there which would add another 1000 (odd) but I will be interested to see if they eventually install any sort of canopies or if the heating points proposed by Peter Gordon get installed.

Ev3_kBSVgAI8Cxh.jpeg


Ev3_jg7VoAY3y6R.jpeg
 
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Millsie69

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Yes, look what they've done to our hill. It will improve the view of play for people in the first several rows on the hill and it remains to be seen whether they install seats there which would add another 1000 (odd) but I will be interested to see if they eventually install any sort of canopies or if the heating points proposed by Peter Gordon get installed.
I wonder if this season, where everyone must have a reserved seat, will play into that thinking, that they're better off having the seats installed there to ensure the extra attendance? Or will they look longer term to keep the hill/standing room?
 

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Roogal

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Ballarat Council considerations for future works at Mars Stadium:

Before any future expansion of the facility can occur many of the existing niggles and shortcomings must first be addressed. In short the stadium was built to a limited budget of just $22 million in 2017 which meant that there were compromises and sacrifices to build just a bare bones stadium. Things not included in the 2017 build were (in no particular order):
  • Limited permanent seating
  • No permanent gates that would facilitate quick and seamless entry of patrons
  • No permanent toilets in the unconstructed areas of the ground
  • No permanent food or beverage outlets
  • Limited competition lighting
  • No additional permanent car parking
  • No permanent public transport access.
A 2018 study, commissioned by the State Government and conducted by the Ballarat Council considered future development options and timings. It highlighted that most of the known shortcomings listed above had to be addressed first before any future expansion to the capacity of the stadium beyond its present 11,000 capacity could even realistically be considered. It noted the long lines and delays for fans entering the facility on big events caused by usage of tentage and manual check in procedures, the usage of Portaloos, poor stadium lighting, lack of permanent catering support amenities and lack of car parking as immediate points of concern.

It noted that any attempt to increase ground capacity beyond 11,000 without first addressing the prevailing logistic shortcomings identified above would exacerbate and compound these problems thus deterring patrons from returning for future events. Presently the Council are addressing the issues of ground entries, toilets and catering as well as having taken steps to improve the standing areas. However, recent reports through Ballarat media and commentary by local Councillors indicates that they are now turning their sights to the pending re-purposing of the remaining adjacent Ballarat Showgrounds site (although technically, Mars Stadium is actually built inside the Ballarat Showgrounds on the site of it's old show ring and trotting track) to the South of the Stadium which are pending closure and subsequent re-location after 2023.

Councillors are already indicating that they see the redeveloped Showgrounds site being used in a future sports role which may see construction of substantial new unspecified sports facilities and car parking. The elephant in the room of course is whether an event day train platform could be constructed. All of the discussion seemingly centres on constructing a rail platform on the Maryborough Line closest to the stadium. Of course this has a number of limitations including:
  • An additional rail siding would need to be constructed as this would be effectively the dead end of the line for football or event day trains
  • Specific dedicated football or event trains would have to be allocated to support this from limited rail stock
  • It's been suggested that the station could be located further North to create a permanent third station for Ballarat to be used by future growth suburbs.
On the other hand, a cheaper and more practical solution exists 650 metres walking distance from Gate 2 South of the Stadium off Lexton Street which would utilise the main active Wendouree passenger line. This is an active line were regular country passenger trains pass through every hour. This alternative platform would be located midway between the main Ballarat Station and the Wendouree Station and would effectively only need minimal facilities as it would only be active for major public events in the Eureka Sports precinct. I am surprised that this option never comes up in either Council or public conversation. It would solve a lot of their problems.

A3a.jpg
 
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kranger

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Have there been any ideas to move the stadium to Eastern Oval?

Being closer to the city centre and Ballarat Station.

And any facilities currently at Eastern Oval could go to Eureka?
 

Roogal

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Perfect location but sadly no room around Eastern Oval. Historically its biggest crowd was back in the 1930's when 13,000 gathered there to play the world's biggest game of sardines. But in recent times the 1977 BFL Grand Final claimed a crowd of 8,800 and in 1992 a crowd of about 9,000 packed in to watch a cricket one day game. These days the oval itself has been altered and enlarged a bit so it legally at best can hold 6-7000 and that suits Cricket Victoria. You can't do anything too dramatic there because it has a huge heritage overlay and a grandstand that locals consider so unique and precious that apparently one has to avert one's eyes as one walks past it and make the sign of the cross once they have passed it ;).

Council did release a ten-year $4.3 million master plan for the Eastern Oval several years ago in February 2015. The plan was not about making the ground bigger but more-so about modernising its decrepit facilities. Much has been done resulting from that plan and if they fully implement that plan then development options would be further limited because they want ultimately to put a sealed road complete with concrete kerbs and parking bays for up to 80 cars immediately around the perimeter (behind the boundary fences) and relegate the spectators to stand back behind the cars on earth mounds under the trees, with the main scoreboard hill being mainly concreted over and getting shade sails similar to Bendigo's QEO.

Eastern Oval 1.png


Oval is landlocked from expansion by the Yarrowee Creek to the West, East Ballarat Bowls Club and Cricket nets to the North, Peel Street to the East and private land to the South.

Eastern Oval.jpg

Lighting installed in 2019 is Cricket Class II (500 lux wicket and 300 lux out-field) standard. So it's actually slightly better than Mars Stadium with its LED lights producing a more natural brighter white light as opposed to Mars Stadium's inferior Metal-Halide units that project a more orangey and duller light.

Also, in consideration that the Ballarat Council are about to open land to the North of Ballarat to allow residential development of 30,000 over the next 15 years, that will push Mars Stadium into the heartland of Ballarat's population.
 

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Boristown

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The perfect outcome would be:

A train platform opposite the ground with dedicated event trains on game day, plus a large carpark using the showgrounds land. An additional gate 3 on the showgrounds side to funnel attendees through quicker is also required as the wait times to get in now are ridiculous and will continue to drive people away. The makeshift entry gate at near that netball court was just plain amateur.
 

Roogal

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The perfect outcome would be:

A train platform opposite the ground with dedicated event trains on game day, plus a large carpark using the showgrounds land. An additional gate 3 on the showgrounds side to funnel attendees through quicker is also required as the wait times to get in now are ridiculous and will continue to drive people away. The makeshift entry gate at near that netball court was just plain amateur.
The problem with using the rail line adjacent to the stadium is that it is not a mainstream passenger line with regular services. The Maryborough line mainly takes freight and three passenger services along that line daily, where as the Wendouree line has trains running hourly to and from Melbourne and it is only a 650 metre walk from the stadium (A fraction more than Jolimont Station to the "G"). By using the Maryborough line they would have to divert trains purposefully dedicated to a football only service on a game day and that seems to be a dreadful waste of resources.

I agree with the idea of the car park though. I am not completely sure what members of the Council have in mind for that area, but they are looking at some sort of other sports complex, and any new sports complex would be accompanied by the building of a substantial car park similar to the 300 space car park built to accompany the Ballarat Sports Events Centre. Also as part of the 2015 Master Plan for that whole sports precinct, it was proposed that a 650 space car park could be sited using some of the land immediately behind (East of) the new Basketball complex on the old Eureka Valves site and which would still only be 400m North-West from Mars Stadium. The Council still has some Sheckles up its sleeve from the $6.6 million allocated for other development at Mars Stadium and they have identified that more established car parking is a priority for that sports precinct before any future stadium expansion will occur.

An interesting image that I discovered recently squirrelled into the Council website curiously titled Mars Stadium 2021-2024 is below:

Mars Stadium - 29 Apr 21a.jpg


It shows clearly the location and design of the new Gate 2 and the new toilets immediately behind the scoreboard. It also interestingly shows that Creswick Road (Midland Highway) immediately to the right turned into a dual carriageway (which it presently is not), defined bus bays and drop points to the left of the highway and six light towers (where as there are only four ATM) around the ground. It also shows Gate 1 has been somehow modified. With the construction of two new netball courts for the North Ballarat Netball Club, North of the Stadium now under construction, this may facilitate the removal of the old netball court and the image above indicates that the existing building containing the old Coaches Box (Now used as the Scoreboard operator's box) being extended or replaced by a new building extending over the old netball court. Perhaps that might be the new food and beverage facility? I am purely speculating here and take nothing as given. But I was very curious about this image because of it's detail and the things that it shows that are either under construction or otherwise not there ATM.

So this might be a glimpse into what we can expect at least over the next three years. The old Showgrounds are currently not scheduled to close until late 2023 so we shouldn't expect too much movement or development there until at least twelve months after that.
 
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Roogal

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From today's Ballarat Courier - Thursday 13 May 2021

Ballarat City Council earmarks $10m for possible land purchase

News Image.jpg

An A-League soccer match at Mars Stadium in December 2019. Original Picture: Skyline Drone Imaging - Modified for illustrative purposes by Roogal

Ballarat City Council has set aside $10 million for potential land purchases around the Mars Stadium sporting precinct. The sum of money is highlighted in this year's draft budget under "strategic land purchase". Council officers are looking to define the future of the area, which hosts many of the city's high profile sporting events. It has had major funding injections from all levels of government in the past decade. More change is imminent as the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society (BAPS) finalises plans to move the Ballarat Show site to Mount Rowan in the next few years.

The precinct also includes the eight-hectare John Valves factory site, which shut down permanently in 2008, and has lain derelict since. Funding from all levels of government has been pumped into the sporting facilities in recent years. These include $22 million works to allow the Mars Stadium to start hosting AFL games in 2017 and the $24 million new Ballarat Sports and Events Centre (BSEC) stadium. Most of the block is dedicated to sports, with four ovals now on site including the C.E. Brown reserve. As well as holding major sports events, the precinct is home to a host of community football and cricket clubs.

Council released a 95-page draft budget document outlining 2021/22 spending plans for public consultation last week. There was no detail in the documents of how the $10 million was likely to be spent but the City of Ballarat confirmed it was considering the possibility of buying land in the "major events" precinct. The City of Ballarat has said audits and feasibility works were taking place but stressed the process was at an early, exploratory stage.
The council's director of development and growth Natalie Robertson said potential land purchases had been flagged in a 2015 Eureka Sports Precinct Masterplan.

"Strategically we are trying to determine through a business case or feasibility whether it should be something that council should purchase - so that we can genuinely do the master planning for that area and be the masters of our destiny," Ms Robertson said. BAPS owns the freehold to a land parcel abutting Creswick Road and Howitt Street measuring slightly less than three acres. The rest of the land used for the Ballarat Show is crown land under a City of Ballarat committee of management. The most recent BAPS annual report valued the land at $6.5 million although it notes the valuation took place in 2019.

Ms Robertson said evaluation work on the former John Valves factory site would be part of the review of the precinct. "Council is in the middle of a feasibility study, business case, valuations, land audits, [and] environmental audits," Ms Robertson said. Works are ongoing in the precinct, with a tender for entrance upgrades and disability compliance at the Mars Stadium going out last year. Works on a $5.2 million stage two project at BSEC began earlier this year.

The Ballarat Major Events Precinct Master Plan, which was released in June 2015, also identified a potential site for a railway station to service match day crowds. No firm plans to establish the stop, suggested for north of Howitt Street on the Maryborough line, have emerged since. The future of the former John Valves site has been uncertain since the factory's closure. The buildings have been demolished, while real estate websites suggest the area was purchased around October 2010 for $2.41million. It is currently zoned for industrial use. The ownership of the former John Valves site is attributed to a registered private company Guysgood PTY LTD and distributed among 14 shareholders, most of them based in Ballarat.

Ms Robertson said a detailed recommendation for the precinct was likely to go before councillors this winter.
 

LordLucifer

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A couple of weeks ago, I held a rather large record fair at the North Ballarat Sports Club which is "part of" Mars Stadium. The room we were in faced out towards the ground with floor to ceiling windows so we got a really good look at the whole playing area and it looks like a fantastic facility.

Naturally you would expect the local leagues to play their matches there but it would be some sort of a waste if it didn't have some AFL/VFL involvement more often.
 

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