Six years after entering the competition, Gold Coast co-captain Steven May says he and his teammates finally feel like professional AFL players with the opening of a new base next to Metricon Stadium.
The Suns finally shifted their gymnasium from a tin shed to a new $22-million training and administration centre, equipped with medical facilities, an indoor pool, a new gym, a heat room, a specialised kitchen and a games room after a fact-finding mission across Australia.
May said the facilities, now up to the standard to the rest of the AFL, would help the club earn equal respect on the field.
“When I was drafted in and a lot of players I played with in juniors went to the big facilities and I never got to experience that,” he said
“This makes you feel professional and like an AFL player. We’re not in the tin sheds and changing locations all the time.
“I just feel like there’s no more excuses for our team now. We’ve always blamed something, whether it’s medical staff, injuries or facilities. We’ve addressed those now.”
The changes coincide with the beginning of a new era for the club.
May joins Tom Lynch as new co-captains after replacing Gary Ablett, while recruits Michael Barlow, Pearce Hanley and Jarryd Lyons give the club a fresh midfield.
“It’s a fresh feeling,” May said.
“Now to come into the facilities coming into the season I feel like we’re in for good things this year.
“The facilities don’t give you wins but they help with the mental side.”
Suns chairman Tony Cochrane said he believed the new complex would change the mindset of the playing group.
“They were promised a new facility in 2-4 years and that didn’t eventuate … So they do start to feel they’re at the bottom of the pecking order,” Cochrane said.
“But we’re a fair dinkum club now.”
And he expected the results to follow on the field.
“You try and work towards getting yourself towards the last game in September, and I think this club is shaped to achieve that in the next two or three years.”