Western Bulldogs and their partnership with Ballarat a success

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lachy

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Interesting, because that number is lower that I have been roughly told in the past. Basically half.
It is because there never will be substantial membership growth from the initiative.

Note the announcement is with the City of Ballarat AND the State Government who are basically underwriting it.

It is a significant financially good deal for the club which will assist in the redevelopment of the Whitten oval which will be completed by the end of this agreement. We will see what inducements occur after that
 

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maddog37

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It is because there never will be substantial membership growth from the initiative.

Note the announcement is with the City of Ballarat AND the State Government who are basically underwriting it.

It is a significant financially good deal for the club which will assist in the redevelopment of the Whitten oval which will be completed by the end of this agreement. We will see what inducements occur after that


I believe there will be membership growth in the long term from the kids that get to go to games and meet players at schools but it is a long term plan.
 

Munnez

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I believe there will be membership growth in the long term from the kids that get to go to games and meet players at schools but it is a long term plan.
I for one am glad to see the club taking a long term view. It is most likely going to require a 20 - 30 year investment to make a significant membership impact. We have an awesome list right now, so now is the time to cement relationships for the future when an inevitable down turn most come.
To have a solid alternative revenue stream when at a lower time with the chance to build on membership can only strengthen the clubs position for the future.
Melbourne as a city is only ever expanding up the highway bringing Ballarat closer. I think it is a great strategic lomg term view by the club time will tell if that is correct
 

footscray1973

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Our financial reports supply some of the requested data...

2021: 1,935 (Ballarat 4 game memberships, Ballarat add-on)
2020: Listed as modest growth
2019: No data
2018: Listed as "14% increase in Ballarat memberships".
2017: 775
Interesting, because that number is lower that I have been roughly told in the past. Basically half.
It is because there never will be substantial membership growth from the initiative.

Note the announcement is with the City of Ballarat AND the State Government who are basically underwriting it.

It is a significant financially good deal for the club which will assist in the redevelopment of the Whitten oval which will be completed by the end of this agreement. We will see what inducements occur after that

Incredibly underwhelming, isn't it? Both the level of the detail and scant numerical data.

Thanks Oliver - although I'm not sure why they bothered even supplying that. "No data" and "Modest growth"! With your prompting I went searching and found at least the 2020 PDF - actual quote is "modest growth in Ballarat and Country memberships" (page 7). What does that even mean? (Sorry, rhetorical question, not aimed at you.)

How many millions does this organisation turn over, with E & Y as auditors? And we get "No data" and "Modest growth". JHC

Also the 1,935 figure for 2021 is fudged anyway - Ballarat 4 game memberships are exclusive to those with a Ballarat (inc Golden Plains) address, but the Ballarat add-on is targeted at existing full members to include two Ballarat games - so it is effectively counting a person twice with a full membership who has opted to add-on the Ballarat games - NOT a Ballarat-based member. Nice way to obfuscate the data though, and artificially inflate the "Ballarat" membership.

And yes BallaratBulldog, I concur. Someone who I know with professional contacts inside the club alluded to an "almost 3,000" Ballarat membership figure to myself in a wider conversation either late 2019/early 2020 (pre-COVID at least), but I had no other figure at the time as context. To see it's actually nowhere near that, and probably wasn't at the time either, given the 775 + 14% increase figures prior to that, is as I said above, underwhelming.

lachy - I take your point too, I've always seen it as a financial deal first anyway. So why not be transparent about the actual Ballarat figures, and not 'make-up' numbers like 1,935 which is obviously meaningless?

North and Hawthorn have an advantage in Tasmania (well, until recently) in that while many Tasmanians may already support mainland AFL clubs, there are more matches annually and more incentive to get behind one of the two teams with a Tassie membership and (even transitory) support.

Having grown up in Victoria, Ballaratians are largely wedded to their Vic AFL support, and with many escapees from Melbourne each year adding to greater Ballarat (Golden Plains/Hepburn/Moorabool) population, also with rusted-on commitment to a club, I agree - substantial membership growth, and even quite possibly ongoing "moderate" growth, is a pipe-dream.
 

footscray1973

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I for one am glad to see the club taking a long term view. It is most likely going to require a 20 - 30 year investment to make a significant membership impact. We have an awesome list right now, so now is the time to cement relationships for the future when an inevitable down turn most come.
To have a solid alternative revenue stream when at a lower time with the chance to build on membership can only strengthen the clubs position for the future.
Melbourne as a city is only ever expanding up the highway bringing Ballarat closer. I think it is a great strategic lomg term view by the club time will tell if that is correct

Ballarat is growing (quite possibly too fast, but that's a separate discussion) - however much of the growth is fuelled by emigrants from Melbourne (much like myself about a decade ago). And like myself, they will bring their existing club allegiances with them.

Until recently I really thought there was merit in the strategy, and that long-term we could gain a decent slice of the population, especially the younger ones exposed to Bulldogs players in schools, etc. But the reality on the ground, from speaking to people, is that is miniscule at best. As you say, Ballarat and Melbourne are becoming closer by dint of both expanding down the highway - if anything that facilitates the Ballarat family who follow the Pies/Saints/whoever to drive down to games at the G or Docklands to watch their team. They might go to a Ballarat game as a novelty, but they're not Dogs' supporters, and probably couldn't care less about interstate clubs being in town either. They are not starved of AFL, as it is only just over an hour's drive away (or a comfortable VLine trip into Southern cross).

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be proven wrong. In fact I sound like a counterpoint to myself on this very thread in the past. But the proximity to Melb I feel is going to work against this eventuating.

That's not to devalue the financial benefit to the club and Ballarat and surrounds from the partnership, and if it means a home-ground advantage and more wins, that's good too, right?
 

dogwatch

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Ballarat is growing (quite possibly too fast, but that's a separate discussion) - however much of the growth is fuelled by emigrants from Melbourne (much like myself about a decade ago). And like myself, they will bring their existing club allegiances with them.

Until recently I really thought there was merit in the strategy, and that long-term we could gain a decent slice of the population, especially the younger ones exposed to Bulldogs players in schools, etc. But the reality on the ground, from speaking to people, is that is miniscule at best. As you say, Ballarat and Melbourne are becoming closer by dint of both expanding down the highway - if anything that facilitates the Ballarat family who follow the Pies/Saints/whoever to drive down to games at the G or Docklands to watch their team. They might go to a Ballarat game as a novelty, but they're not Dogs' supporters, and probably couldn't care less about interstate clubs being in town either. They are not starved of AFL, as it is only just over an hour's drive away (or a comfortable VLine trip into Southern cross).

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be proven wrong. In fact I sound like a counterpoint to myself on this very thread in the past. But the proximity to Melb I feel is going to work against this eventuating.

That's not to devalue the financial benefit to the club and Ballarat and surrounds from the partnership, and if it means a home-ground advantage and more wins, that's good too, right?
I don't think you're giving enough credit to the drip-drip effect of a long term engagement and presence. But I'm talking very long term.

Just a hunch, mind, but I suspect that membership growth - to whatever extent it will be - is best measured in decades rather than typical three year business cycles. My hunch is that the Bulldogs will eventually insinuate their way into local consciousness in a way that gradually erodes the parent-to-child handing on of a traditional club allegiance. Wherever that process is weakened or breaks down the Bulldogs will be the obvious choice to fill the void. The same should happen where the Ballarat residents are newly arrived immigrants from some pagan part of the globe (i.e. where they worship false sports and don't believe in AFL).

Membership itself is an ambiguous concept. Most of us take it to mean the paid-up tip of the supporter iceberg. However here in Canberra where we have a similar hosting arrangement with GWS there is a reasonably good membership (maybe a few thousand) which belies the Giants' true level of support. I'd venture that at least half of those members are still strong supporters of a traditional club and have just joined the Giants to be able to see AFL level footy at their local stadium a few times a year. And if they're lucky maybe one of those games will be against the club they really support.

Some of our modest growth so far in the Ballarat region could be of this nature.

I myself was an inaugural Giants member ($50) but other than in that strictly commercial sense you wouldn't (dare) call me a Giants "supporter". I did it to help ensure we had the numbers which helped convince the ACT government to put up the initial agreement and the annual subsidy. (Disclaimer: I only joined for that first year - which was before they became such unlikable pricks - and I have of course recanted and sought absolution for my sins since then. Oh and for my $50 I got to see the Dogs flog the Giants by 42 pts on 28 April 2012. :))
 

footscray1973

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I don't think you're giving enough credit to the drip-drip effect of a long term engagement and presence. But I'm talking very long term.

Just a hunch, mind, but I suspect that membership growth - to whatever extent it will be - is best measured in decades rather than typical three year business cycles. My hunch is that the Bulldogs will eventually insinuate their way into local consciousness in a way that gradually erodes the parent-to-child handing on of a traditional club allegiance. Wherever that process is weakened or breaks down the Bulldogs will be the obvious choice to fill the void. The same should happen where the Ballarat residents are newly arrived immigrants from some pagan part of the globe (i.e. where they worship false sports and don't believe in AFL).

Membership itself is an ambiguous concept. Most of us take it to mean the paid-up tip of the supporter iceberg. However here in Canberra where we have a similar hosting arrangement with GWS there is a reasonably good membership (maybe a few thousand) which belies the Giants' true level of support. I'd venture that at least half of those members are still strong supporters of a traditional club and have just joined the Giants to be able to see AFL level footy at their local stadium a few times a year. And if they're lucky maybe one of those games will be against the club they really support.

Some of our modest growth so far in the Ballarat region could be of this nature.

I myself was an inaugural Giants member ($50) but other than in that strictly commercial sense you wouldn't (dare) call me a Giants "supporter". I did it to help ensure we had the numbers which helped convince the ACT government to put up the initial agreement and the annual subsidy. (Disclaimer: I only joined for that first year - which was before they became such unlikable pricks - and I have of course recanted and sought absolution for my sins since then. Oh and for my $50 I got to see the Dogs flog the Giants by 42 pts on 28 April 2012. :))

Look, you may be right, and like I said, more than happy to be proven incorrect. But again, with Ballarat being just over an hour from the major Melbourne AFL stadiums, there is less incentive for people to change their support. It may work with kids - I don't know what it was like here in the old zoning days, but certainly many people I met in my younger years from Ballarat who grew up in that era were Saints supporters. These days, Ballarat and the general area is far more diverse in their AFL support. (Similarly most people I met in my younger days from the Latrobe Valley/Gippsland area seemed to be Dogs supporters, but I suspect that has likewise diversified since the end of zoning. Apart from the posters on here from down that way, of course!)
 

Roogal

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I for one am glad to see the club taking a long term view. It is most likely going to require a 20 - 30 year investment to make a significant membership impact. We have an awesome list right now, so now is the time to cement relationships for the future when an inevitable down turn most come.
To have a solid alternative revenue stream when at a lower time with the chance to build on membership can only strengthen the clubs position for the future.
Melbourne as a city is only ever expanding up the highway bringing Ballarat closer. I think it is a great strategic long term view by the club time will tell if that is correct
I think that you are right. The Bulldogs got a superior deal by going with Ballarat to what North Melbourne did with Hobart, despite the present differences between the better lit and larger capacity Blundstone Arena and Mars Stadium. In the long term Ballarat and Bendigo are both on track to outgrow Hobart in about 40 years. Accessibility for the Western Bulldogs is key with Ballarat being literally a short travel-time satellite extension of its Melbourne metro zone. WBFC supporters can easily travel and access games at their satellite venue in addition to players and club representatives who are able to frequently engage with the broader Ballarat and western Victoria community as part of an extended family (so to speak). North on the other hand have the expense and time involved with travel, not to mention the geographical barrier of a 200 km stretch of ocean. This makes their satellite venue more remote, not easily or affordably accessed by its Victorian supporters and less frequently visited by players and club officials.

As regional Victoria grows it is likely that train services to Ballarat and regional Victoria will only be improved. Further, as Ballarat grows and support for the WBFC gathers momentum in Ballarat over the next decade, then it is likely that Mars Stadium and its surrounding infrastructure will improve and be enlarged accordingly. Perhaps over time Bulldogs fans may come to embrace Mars Stadium with a sense of pride and nostalgic affection, appreciating the points of difference that Mars Stadium presently offers in comparison to what the metropolitan super stadiums offer, and consider that these points of difference will become more significant over time as Marvel and MCG are upgraded. Forthcoming upgrades will significantly change the Marvel Stadium experience and the planned replacement of the Great Southern Stand at the MCG in the early 2030's will see both stadiums become very high-tech and offering comfort and amenity on par with the best in the world. One wouldn't expect that level for a regional stadium so a trip to Ballarat in the future will be perhaps a more organic and connected experience for spectators and the players on the field.

If we consider that Mars Stadium today is essentially a 21st Century version of a 1970's VFL ground being roughly the same size as what Arden Street and the VUWO were in the 70s, and those old enough can remember how we legally used to cram 25,000 people into those venues like sardines. As times and legal requirements have changed, the 21st century re-imagined VFL ground (Mars Stadium) has individual seating compared with bench seating in the 70s and allows 1 square metre of standing space per person in the standing zones. It has an electronic scoreboard and other modern amenities; but essentially it's still just a modern day incarnation of a classic VFL ground that the AFL fans all seem to nostalgically pine for. But at least it will be likely to pretty much remain that way irrespective of what future upgrades and construction occurs. In the future I expect that while Mars will see the lighting upgraded, modest expansion of seating by about 5000 and possibly a second video scoreboard, the real investment there will occur around accessibility, i.e. roadways, car parking, pedestrian and possible train access. As I said, "accessibility is key" (in many respects).

Over time one suspects that Ballarat's cool temperate weather will increasingly play to the Bulldogs advantage as they grow to own the conditions in much the same way that North Melbourne have learned to dominate at Blundstone Arena (with a 90% win rate at that ground). The team that owns those conditions will turn Mars Stadium into their fortress and a dreaded expedition for visiting teams. Consider that the Bulldogs currently hold a 71% win rate at Mars Stadium. When we consider that over the last decade, by the final rounds there has only been eight points separating No 6 from No 12 on the ladder with teams separated by percentages. Those two games in Ballarat may very well be the difference between having your Mad Monday immediately after the home and away rounds or making the finals.
 
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Roogal

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From this morning's Ballarat Courier website:

Confirmed: The Western Bulldogs will meet a familiar foe at Mars Stadium in 2022 for an ANZAC Round match


Former GWV Rebel Jamarra Ugle-Hagan features in the Bulldogs second Mars Stadium trip this season. Picture: Adam Trafford


Former GWV Rebel Jamarra Ugle-Hagan features in the Bulldogs second Mars Stadium trip this season. Picture: Adam Trafford

The Western Bulldogs have had their first Mars Stadium visit for the 2022 AFL season locked in. The reigning grand finalists will face the Adelaide Crows in round six, which will be the Anzac Appeal Round.

The match-up is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 1:45pm AEDT. The two sides have faced off in Ballarat twice before, the first coming in the final round of the 2019 season. The Bulldogs dominated from start to finish, kicking away 18.13 (121) - 13.9 (87). They did much of the same when the two sides battled at Mars in round 20 this season. The Bulldogs were too strong across the four quarters, 15.15 (105) - 8.8 (56) winners. The news follows the announcement that the Bulldogs AFLW side will host Fremantle in Ballarat over the round 10 weekend (March 11-13).

*******************************

Note: For those perhaps contemplating travel to Ballarat this year, it is worth noting that both the AFLW game and the ANZAC round will occur on long weekends with the AFLW game to coincide with Victorian Labour Day weekend and Ballarat's Begonia Festival, and the ANZAC Day falling on a Monday in 2022, making that a long weekend for Victoria. My personal recommendation for those who have never ventured to Mars Stadium will be to try out the facility at the AFLW game. The weather will likely be perfect and it will likely be a crowd of around 4-5000 which will make it very comfortable from an amenity point of view and more akin to a real day at the country footy.​
 
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Pugz89

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Round 10 in Ballarat is a dreadful call from the AFL. Suns will hate the cold, that's for sure, but gee its an odd call to play both games in the first half of the season.
 

Prince Imperial

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Round 10 in Ballarat is a dreadful call from the AFL. Suns will hate the cold, that's for sure, but gee its an odd call to play both games in the first half of the season.

May in Ballarat is a fair bit warmer than the 3 winter months. As a Ballarat add on member, I'm happy no match is being scheduled then.

 

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Pugz89

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Roogal

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Round 10 in Ballarat is a dreadful call from the AFL. Suns will hate the cold, that's for sure, but gee its an odd call to play both games in the first half of the season.
I can't see it being well attended, but I havebeen wrong many times before. I suppose that it may in part depend upon the weather, but at least it will play to Bulldogs supporters advantage as the Sun's only a have a few thousand Victorian members so there will be plenty of space for the Bulldogs fans to book and access. Also it depends on whether the Sun's are competitive in the 2022 season in order to make the game interesting and worth attending.

I get the impression that the AFL consider an 8000 crowd a good outcome for a Sun's game in Ballarat from how it was reported last time that they played there. There were over 8000 bookings for the last WB v Sun's in Ballarat but media reporting on the weather conditions leading up to that game did scare off well over a thousand of them with less than 7000 attending, but the AFL did not seem concerned as over 8000 places had been pre-booked and effectively paid for. However, the reduced crowd raised the ire of the Ballarat Council drawing a terse rebuke at Melbourne's media quite rightly stating that Melbourne's news media (namely Channel 7 News, footy commentary shows and the Herald Sun) don't get all hysterical reporting about the weather conditions in Hobart, Launceston or Canberra, yet somehow or for some reason precede every one of their reports on AFL games in Ballarat speculating and focussing upon the weather conditions.

For the record, the weather at the last Ballarat WB v Sun's game was sunny, 12 degrees and a 19 knot SW wind. It didn't rain, hail or snow, and the field wasn't infested by plague locusts, but 1300 people who had pre-booked chose not to go ... thank you very much to those bloody ignorant Melbourne reporters!

Besides, it doesn't have to be Winter in Ballarat for the weather to go to crap. For anybody old enough who can remember the 16th November 1989 when Ballarat copped an ice storm where it literally rained golf ball sized hail and shards of ice for over half an hour. Almost every car that you looked at in the city for months after that event was beaten and dented and new car dealers had to write off over $20 million (1989 dollars) of stock.

ballarat-hail-storm-1989.jpg
 
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Roogal

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City of Ballarat estimates $11 million return on Western Bulldogs partnership so far

Norm Smith Medallist [PLAYERCARD]Jason Johannisen[/PLAYERCARD] fends off Brisbane's [PLAYERCARD]Deven Robertson[/PLAYERCARD] in Ballarat earlier this year.
Norm Smith Medallist Jason Johannisen fends off Brisbane's Deven Robertson in Ballarat earlier this year.​

The City of Ballarat has received more than $10 million in economic benefit from its partnership with the Western Bulldogs, according to council estimates.
Under the three-year deal, which was extended by a year due to COVID preventing matches being played in Ballarat in 2020, the city about $11 million in economic benefit had been contributed by visitors attending AFL games in Ballarat since 2017.

According to the figures, 2019 was the most lucrative year for the partnership with two games at Mars Stadium, against Brisbane and Adelaide, drawing a combined attendance of 19,969 and $4.35 million in economic return. The first fixture in Ballarat in 2017 had a crowd of 10,087 with a $2.2 million return, 2018 had a total attendance of 13,283 for $2.89 million and 2021 saw a restricted attendance of 7340 with a $1.6 million economic benefit.

It was announced in late November that the partnership between council, the state government and the Western Bulldogs would continue for another three years through to 2024. The extended partnership will continue to include two AFL matches per year and the Sons and Daughters of the West Health Program, Youth Leadership Program and Bulldogs Read Program, along with the addition of an AFLW fixture. Council said its contribution to the new partnership totalled $1.375 million.

In a statement, City of Ballarat chief executive Evan King said the economic benefit of the partnership was estimated through survey data collected at Western Bulldogs matches. "Key data on visitation and spend, local, intra state visitors and interstate visitation was assessed through one of the City of Ballarat's economic assessment tools, REMPLAN, which assesses economic benefit of visitation," he said.

Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison, Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney and chief executive Evan King with Western Bulldogs AFL captain [PLAYERCARD]Marcus Bontempelli[/PLAYERCARD], AFLW player Bonnie Toogood and chief executive Ameet Bains at Mars Stadium in November.

Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison, Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney and chief executive Evan King with Western Bulldogs AFL captain Marcus Bontempelli, AFLW player Bonnie Toogood and chief executive Ameet Bains at Mars Stadium in November.​

"Another economic assessment tool, Spendmapp, which tracks spending in the community, was also used to validate increased local retail expenditure. "The model used when this detailed survey information was assessed was then extrapolated against attendances at other AFL games at Mars Stadium, as not all matches had detailed surveys carried out and COVID lockdowns influenced attendance numbers." Mr King said council invested slightly less than the current $1.375 million on the first three-year partnership. "The last three years of the partnership have included the shorts branding sponsorship, which is fully funded by Visit Victoria at no cost to the City of Ballarat," he said. "The total City of Ballarat investment for the first three-year partnership was slightly less than the current partnership. However, the first three years also didn't include the AFLW component, which the current agreement does."
 
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Roogal

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Images from today Sunday 19 Dec 21. Exclusive for Bulldogs supporters only - I have chosen not to share these in the Stadiums Section and instead will share these with the fans. These images show new entrances at Mars Stadium with Gate 2 completed and Gate 1 with new toilets and covered entrance under construction:

Below: Gate 1 starting to take shape with a new toilet block to the left and large covered area taking shape. You can see six large black poles in the the rear which will support nets to catch and deflect balls from the field. The new TV camera platform has an interesting form and it will be interesting to see how it is finally built.
P_20211219_123448.jpg

Below: Gate 1 from a slightly different angle. The two larger black poles will support the new TV camera platform. The new entrances undeniably give the stadium more presence to the Midland Highway.
P_20211219_123601.jpg

Below: Gate 2 completed with preparations underway to the rear for Ballarat's Carols by Candlelight at the stadium tonight.
P_20211219_123824.jpg

Below: Close up view of the concourse immediately behind Gate 2, which features new toilets at either end ... And it's goodbye forever to those horrible portaloos :D
P_20211219_123855.jpg

Below: A close up view of Gate 2 from Creswick Road.
P_20211219_123921.jpg

Below: Gate 2 from the South East standing on the asphalt path on Creswick Road.
P_20211219_123957.jpg


P_20211219_124001.jpg


P_20211219_124024.jpg
 

Roogal

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To my friends and jousting partners here, I hope that this message finds you all fit, safe and well. Wishing you all the best for 2022, and as my team is still out of contention, I'll wish the Doggies all the best for another bite at the flag in season 22.

The image below taken about 1 month ago shows the extent of changes at Mars Stadium since 2020. The extent of paving on the hill, the new Gate two at the upper right of the ground, and new toilet block to the lower right. Upper left of the ground, the new Gate 1 is visible in the early stages of construction with the original forecourt torn up. The roof frame is currently being erected aove it as shown in the post above.

rightImage_mn5gEWD-O6.jpg
 
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Dogs_r_barking

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To my friends and jousting partners here, I hope that this message finds you all fit, safe and well. Wishing you all the best for 2022, and as my team is still out of contention, I'll wish the Doggies all the best for another bite at the flag in season 22.

Thanks for your input throughout the year Roogal,it has been much appreciated. I think watching the Roos this year will give you a lot of excitement for the future.
 

threenewpadlocks

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2026 Commonwealth Games likely to be hosted by Melbourne, with an emphasis on regional centres hosting sport. You'd think the whole precinct would host multiple events, which us broadly good for development.
 

Roogal

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With two elections in the air (Federal in May and State in November) the Ballarat Council have submitted their "Priority Projects of Advocacy" document to Federal and State politicians. High on the list is a request for $53 million for the further development of the Ballarat Major Events Precinct which presently incorporates the Ballarat Sports Events Centre (recently renamed as 'Selkirk Stadium'), the CE Brown Reserve (Wendouree ovals incorporating cricket, football and netball clubs), the Ballarst Showgrounds and Mars Stadium. This is identified as a Tier 1 Priority (i.e. Transformational project, a project of regional significance)

Identified as a Tier 2 Priority (Project of city/municipality-wide significance) - Is a lighting upgrade at Mars Stadium. The document outlines its case as follows:

Upgrades to Mars Stadium lighting to allow greater opportunities to fixture AFL and AFLW matches at the venue. The project will see the replacement of existing 37 metre light poles and metal haloid globes with four 50 metre light poles, fitted with 1500W LED fittings. The upgrade will meet broadcast requirements for AFL and AFLW matches of 1000 lux main camera and 800 lux secondary camera. Mars Stadium is the city’s premier AFL venue and the second home of the Western Bulldogs AFL and AFLW teams. It will host two Western Bulldogs AFL matches and a first ever AFLW match in 2022. Mars Stadium is also home to the Greater Western Victoria Rebels U/18 boys and U/19 girls’ teams.
Upgraded lighting at the venue to broadcast standard will enable significant advantages in future opportunities to fixture high level sport in Ballarat. Sum requested to complete this project is: $3.5 million.

Of course there are other significant major projects outlined in this document that will help transform Ballarat and underpin its modernisation and growth, although I was surprised that the city’s airport didn't get a mention, possibly because there are already dollars allocated to upgrade and lengthen the main runway to eventually accommodate Dash 8 sized aircraft and the planning for that has already begun ... I digress.

Back to the major events hub and Mars Stadium. If the Victorian Government do decide to proceed with supporting the 2026 Comm Games then it is likely that Ballarat will get every dollar that they have asked for to finish the Major Events Precinct. $53 million is paltry compared with moneys allocated to upgrade some of Melbourne's ovals. The $53 mil would fund expansion of undercover seating at Mars Stadium, upgrade lighting, fund construction of carparking, further expand the Selkirk Stadium and likely build the railway station adjacent to ars Stadium. Mars Stadium and Selkirk Stadium were already flagged to host Rugby 7s and Netball under the original proposal for Regional Victoria to host the 2030 Comm Games. It's further possible that Lake Wendouree would be in the bidding against Nagambie to host Rowing as it is now included as a Comm Games sport. Ballarat and Nagambie have the only two Olympic rowing sized courses in Victoria.

The Commonwealth Games Federation are desperate for a host for 2026 as all other bidders have pulled out. The Victorian Government have been directly approached by the CGF and the Vic Govt look as though they can pretty much name their terms, including housing athletes in hotels rather than an expensive Games Village and shifting 50% of events out to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. The CGF are due to announce the 2026 host in March and the Vic Govt are doing the feasibility number crunching behind the scenes. They will likely get generous support from the Federal Government and everybody comes out looking like heroes if Victoria and Melbourne step in at the eleventh hour to save the Comm Games. At least this time (unlike in 2006), we really don't have to spend very much money at all on major infrastructure as much is already either in place or underway in Victoria. The main costs will be associated with hosting athletes and officials and the security bill. Heavens, we don't even have to spend a brass raazoo on bidding or wooing games votes.

This could be a win, win, win for Victoria, Ballarat and the Western Bulldogs.

 

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