The Australian Football League has completed the purchase of Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium and is expected to take over the ownership and management in November.
The deal is believed to be worth $200 million and has followed 15 months of negotiations between the AFL and current owners, Melbourne Stadiums Limited. The League had been due to take hold of the stadium for $30 in 2025, as part of the original deal when the venue was built.
The 55,000-capacity stadium will continue to be run as a multi-purpose venue, hosting sports including AFL, cricket and soccer, as well as concerts and other entertainment.
Existing bookings including the Justin Bieber concert in March will be honoured, however the AFL will now have full control over events held at the venue, meaning the league can rest the venue to protect its often-maligned playing surface.
Etihad Stadium chief executive Michael Green will remain stadium boss and there will be no immediate changes to the venue's management structure.
AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said the ownership of Etihad Stadium was a significant investment for the AFL competition that would benefit Clubs, players and football fans, and also the public of Victoria.
“Owning Etihad Stadium enables the AFL to continue to strengthen the financial health of several of our Victorian Clubs, develop an asset for our whole industry, and commit to being a serious stakeholder in the future of the Docklands precinct,” Mr McLachlan said.
“Stadiums are a vital piece of community and public infrastructure that bring city precincts alive.
“The AFL will continue to operate Etihad Stadium as a multi-purpose entertainment venue hosting AFL matches, other sports, concerts and a broad range of entertainment options.
“Our commitment as owners of Etihad Stadium is to work with government to provide a stadium experience for our fans equal to the best in the world, as well as explore how we can help improve the stadium’s relationship to Docklands and the city.”
The AFL is planning a $300 million redevelopment of the Docklands venue, as announced earlier this year. Read more >
The long-anticipated buyout is likely to boost gate returns for the ground’s tenant clubs, including the Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Carlton, St Kilda and North Melbourne.
The AFL will now be able to construct new deals for all five tenant clubs and will have the long-term control over contracts for food and beverage vendors and the ticket agent – which currently is Ticketmaster.
Etihad Stadium opened in 2000 (known as Colonial Stadium then), following the closure of Waverley Park and is the heart of Melbourne’s Docklands precinct.