Etihad Stadium's redevelopment to improve links to CBD and Victoria Harbour

Etihad Stadium's redevelopment to improve links to CBD and Victoria Harbour
Etihad Stadium's redevelopment to improve links to CBD and Victoria Harbour

Late last week the State Government and the AFL announced a $225m allocation in the 2018/19 budget that will facilitate a major redevelopment of the Etihad Stadium Sporting and Entertainment Precinct.

This forms part of a $500m package to retain the AFL Grand Final at the MCG for the next 40 years, support grassroots football and the growing women's competitions through upgrades to local community grounds and suburban stadiums.

The Etihad Stadium upgrade will deliver upgrades for rectangular sports like soccer and rugby, improve women's change facilities and guarantees access for other codes and major events. Developed over the last two-years, the redevelopment will see AFL House demolished and replaced with a multi-storey building with improved connections to the waterfront and surrounding precinct.

The plans will be further developed and refined over the next 12-18 months, according to the AFL with works not likely to commence until 2020.

We have made a committment to the government that it is a venue that is open for all sports and we've committed to that for 30 years. We have always had that attitude and this is now contractually guaranteed.

We want to open up Etihad Stadium, have a better venue and better destination and open up the precinct.

- AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan

Etihad Stadium's redevelopment to improve links to CBD and Victoria Harbour
Artist's impression of what an Etihad Stadium upgrade might look like. Image: AFL

What does this mean for Docklands?

Originally breaking the story on the Footy Show, host and Collingwood President Eddie McGuire spoke about the desire to better integrate the stadium with the Docklands precinct and improve connections for visitors arriving from Southern Cross Station, with the possibility that not only would the works encapsulate AFL House but also Channel 7's digital studios.

The details of this have yet to be confirmed.

Unlike most stadiums around the world, Etihad Stadium (originally Colonial Stadium) was always envisaged as an urban stadium acting as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the former docks, with its four 'corners' eventually developing over time to fill out and assist in achieving the vision for a 24/7 precinct. 

It can be argued that the Stadium Precinct hasn't quite reached its true potential with opportunity for the stadium itself to offer more on non-event days and contribute to the activity and liveliness of the area.

Development of the remaining two parcels will go some way to improving and contributing to the area, with developments by AZX Group and Salta Properties injecting further residential and hotel program into the precinct at their 685 and 695 LaTrobe Street sites.

Etihad Stadium's redevelopment to improve links to CBD and Victoria Harbour
685 LaTrobe Street and 695-699 LaTrobe Street. Images : AZX Group & Salta Properties

Most critically, however, in the mind of this author is the redevelopment of Harbour Esplanade and whether any funding from the State Government and/or AFL will be allocated to finally get this key project realised, after a number of false starts over the years. 

You can read more about the now approved Master Plan for Harbour Esplanade devised by Hassell here and here.

Etihad Stadium's redevelopment to improve links to CBD and Victoria Harbour
Harbour Esplanade Master Plan Overview. Image: Hassell

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

Etihad Stadium Docklands Redevelopment AFL State Budget Victoria Harbour

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Adam Ford's picture
I think one of the core problems is that it's pretty hard to use a crowd of tens of thousands of people all arriving and departing within a half hour window to activate a precinct.
Literally nobody heads the direction of the harbour at the end of the game, and almost nobody arrives via that end.
About the only way to activate it would be if there were a huge family-friendly restaurant strip. But reality is most bars and clubs don't want already-mostly-soaked football patrons and the sort of restaurants that would serve a post football crowd would struggle every non-football day of the year.
I still think what you want is to roof the railyards and create a proper plaza that people would be more inclined to linger in.
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