Bulldogs keen on new boutique AFL stadium

Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon has renewed calls for a third AFL stadium in Melbourne, putting Whitten Oval up as an option.

The Bulldogs’ training base enjoyed a $20 million redevelopment last decade which brought the club’s facilities into the new century and allowed the club’s VFL affiliate Footscray to play home games in the West.

But it was only after the cross-code bungle with the A-League grand final that the club seriously began looking at hosting AFL matches there.

Soccer bosses and Melbourne Victory had hoped to play the A-League decider at Etihad Stadium on May 17 this year, the same date as the Dogs were scheduled to host Fremantle at the Docklands venue.

Gordon told Melbourne radio station SEN on Wednesday the club, with the league’s backing, conducted a “serious study” into the viability of playing their home and away fixture at Whitten Oval.

“We got the co-operation of the AFL and put a working group together and behind closed doors we actually worked it really, really hard,” he said.

“The best option was to try and borrow (stands) from the Grand Prix … but even that was going to cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“When the costs of playing the one game there got up to over a million dollars … the cost-benefit analysis of it just wasn’t there.

“You’d need to do it permanently and that requires a major capital investment in the Oval.”

Gordon stopped short of calling for further investment in the club’s home base for more than 130 years but suggested a boutique third stadium should be on the AFL’s agenda.

“I think that Melbourne needs a new bespoke stadium that maxes out at 25 to 30 (thousand),” he said.

“Etihad was built in the late 1990s and it’s aged.

“A packed house looks so much better than an empty house and so many games are games of 25 to 30 thousand.

“Let’s make a profit on those games, let’s do something exquisite and interesting and different.

“One of the options would be the Whitten Oval and I’m sure the Saints, the Demons and various other parts of town might be thinking about that too.”

Gordon said the club’s dire stadium returns from Etihad Stadium would be boosted from a revamped Whitten Oval sharing their home games.

“It’d pump up our revenue by two to four million every year,” he said.

“We make more money out of playing one game in front of less than 10,000 people in Cairns a couple of weeks ago than all of our other home games put together.”

Whitten Oval hosted a pre-season NAB Cup game with Richmond this year, with 9500 in the stands.

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