Victorian football clubs and fans are the big winners in a breakthrough that will deliver bigger returns to clubs for AFL games played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Premier, John Brumby, said today.
Mr Brumby said the AFL, the Melbourne Cricket Club, the MCG Trust and the Victorian Government had reached an agreement, which would result in:
• The Victorian Government delivering a capped contribution of $30 million towards a major refurbishment of the Great Southern Stand;
• The Victorian Government committing $6 million to a major $22 million environmental and water saving project for Yarra Park in partnership with the Melbourne Cricket Club; and
• The management of Yarra Park transferring to the MCG Trust, who in turn will delegate operational management to the MCC, with a key water project and landscaping project to secure the future of the trees in the park and preservation of existing car parking entitlements.
As a result of this deal, AFL clubs playing home games at the MCG will receive at least an additional $4.6 million a year – or $100,000 a game – for the next 10 years from revenue from home and away matches played at the MCG.
“The Melbourne Cricket Ground is the spiritual home of football and this new arrangement, brokered by our Government, will help secure the future for Victorian AFL clubs,” Mr Brumby said.
“I thank all parties for their determination over a long period of negotiations to deliver a deal that put football fans and clubs first.”
The new arrangement for home games at the MCG also includes a new attendance incentive arrangement marked at $1.50 per head for attendances between 2.1 million and 2.5 million patrons; $2 per head for attendances between 2.5 million and 3 million patrons; and $3 per head for attendances in excess of 3 million patrons.
The licence agreement between the MCC and the AFL will be extended to ensure the AFL Grand Final remains at the MCG until 2037 and that the AFL schedule at least 10 of the 12 best attended home and away matches at the MCG each year.
Mr Brumby said the Victorian Government had committed $30 million for a redevelopment of the Great Southern Stand and a detailed scoping study would begin before the end of the year.
“The scoping works will investigate how best to revitalise some of the entry points to the ground including a more streamlined ticketing area as well as upgrades to food and beverage areas and basement floor food courts,” Mr Brumby said.
“It will also look into replacement and upgrades to seating, public concourses and amenities and a refurbishment of function and dining rooms for greater patron comfort.”
AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick thanked the Victorian Government for its support of the AFL clubs and said the new agreement provided benefits to the clubs, the MCG and the broader Victorian economy.
“This agreement recognises the passion of supporters and the work of the AFL clubs in building strong crowds at the MCG as well as the need to put money back into the football economy to underpin the ongoing financial viability of AFL clubs,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“This arrangement will allow Victorian-based AFL clubs to invest in football departments and facilities, expand their community activities and – most importantly – generate more jobs for the economy.”
Melbourne Cricket Club chairman David Meiklejohn said the new agreement would provide benefits to all parties and secure the success of Victorian football clubs in Victoria.
“The MCC believes the offer to the AFL and the AFL clubs is fair and reasonable given the size of the debt to be serviced, the costs of running the stadium and the inherent risks involved,” Mr Meiklejohn said. “The new agreement is also a great result for MCC members.”
MCG Trust Chairman John Wylie said it was significant that the AFL had agreed to extend its agreement to play the AFL Grand Final at the MCG for another five years.
“The MCG Trust, like the AFL, wants to see the Victorian clubs – particularly those based at the MCG – thrive and enjoy success,” Mr Wylie said.
“Their ongoing viability and success is good for the AFL, the MCG, MCC members and the people of Victoria. Similarly, it is good for the MCG to have extended its AFL content arrangement through until 2037."
Mr Merlino said the continued enhancement of the MCG and its surrounds enables the Government to provide a world-class spectator experience and attract major sporting and cultural events.
Under the agreement, management of the parkland will become the day-to-day responsibility of the MCC. The MCC will also invest $16 million in Yarra Park to undertake the water recycling project and the implementation of the Yarra Park Draft Masterplan.
“The Government will provide $6 million for the Yarra Park Draft Masterplan to greatly improve the parkland and protect the gardens from the effects of the drought,” Mr Merlino said.
“The Draft Masterplan will see the addition of new avenues of trees, selected tree planting, mulching on avenues, significant tree protection measures introduced, lawn upgrades, improvements to the playground, additional garden beds established new pedestrian paths.”