AFL closing in on Etihad Stadium deal

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says the league is closing in on a deal to purchase Etihad Stadium and will look to make substantial upgrades to its facilities.

There are reports the AFL could purchase the 54,000-capacity ground for about $150 million by the end of the year.

The stadium is scheduled to be transferred to the AFL in 2025 under a deal with the ground’s consortium of owners but McLachlan says the league is keen to bring the takeover forward.

“We’ve always said at the right price we’d like to do it,” he told 3AW radio on Friday.

“We’ve been pretty consistent with that message for a long time.

“There’s a chance. There was a chance six months ago, there was a chance a year ago. We just keep chipping away.”

McLachlan says the AFL is keen to boost gate returns to the ground’s tenant clubs – including the Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Carlton, St Kilda and North Melbourne – and make the ageing stadium at Docklands more enticing for fans.

“We think that there’s a whole series of aspects that need upgrading and we want to do deals with the tenant clubs so they can make more money,” he said.

“We’d like to work with the state government, in partnership, so the stadium works more seven days a week, 365 days a year and interacts with the precinct better.”

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has previously flagged the possibility of demolishing Etihad Stadium and building a $1 billion new AFL venue in the shadow of the MCG to take over the mantle of Melbourne’s second stadium.

But McLachlan believes the 15-year-old ground is still a strong asset in need of improvements.

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