Hawthorn bill themselves as the AFL’s destination club and for the Hawks, their destination is Dingley in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs.
Just nine years after moving from Glenferrie Oval in the heart of Hawthorn to the former VFL Park site at Mulgrave, the Hawks are planning another move for their club headquarters and training base.
Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold has revealed the club has signed a conditional offer on a 28-hectare site in Dingley, more than 25 kilometres southeast of the club’s spiritual home.
But there’s no hard feelings, simply a desire to continue the club’s growth – and keep winning premierships.
In a letter to members, Newbold said a three-year study into the Waverley Park site concluded it was rapidly falling below the AFL benchmark.
“Most other AFL clubs have developed new state-of-the-art facilities and we have rapidly fallen down the ladder in this respect,” he wrote.
“Our key vision, to be the destination club, is one of the main objectives within our strategic plan and this means providing world-class training and administration facilities to attract the best players, coaches and staff.”
Hawks forward Jarryd Roughead was part of a small delegation to tour overseas training venues in the United States and England at the end of last season.
He said the potential to replicate facilities built for English Premier League clubs and NFL bases was exciting.
“It’ll be big enough to fit an MCG size oval, a Telstra Dome size oval and then a big headquarters and potentially undercover areas that would be good for training inside,” he said.
“The models that we saw overseas were great and it’s a good vision for the footy club.
“Better aquatic facilities and all on one level.
“If you look at Waverley now we’re spread across four levels which probably isn’t ideal.”
Captain Luke Hodge said he backed the move based on the growing needs of an AFL club.
“Waverley’s been outstanding for us, the last four or five years … in 10 years you’d probably outgrow that again.”
Under the terms of the contract signed, Hawthorn can walk away within 18 months should they choose to, or purchase the site for around $7.5 million.
Newbold said any development would be a “five to 10 year undertaking”, and would likely cost at least that amount again.
Roughead said he hoped his playing career would allow him to move with the club.
“I’m only 28, with all these blokes playing into their mid-30s, who knows what might happen,” he said.