K rock Football

Cats help push case for KP cash

Geelong runs onto GMHBA Stadium in 2019. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

THE scope of the stage five redevelopment of GMHBA Stadium may have to be pared back if an additional $35m in funding isn’t obtained ahead of next year’s planned upgrade.

The Victorian government has committed $102m for the $137m final stage.

The federal Labor Party committed $20m to the project ahead of last year’s election, but that was off the table following the return of the Coalition.

The Kardinia Park Stadium Trust is project manager; however, Geelong CEO Brian Cook is playing a role in trying to attract the extra cash.

Cook was recently in Canberra for the annual FedCats functions attempting to drum up support.

“That was the first night we publicly indicated we were short on budget,” he revealed.

“We met with several important people on that day and that night. We’re just hoping that the Federal Government has a serious look at this and decides to fund it down the track.

“But it can’t be too late down the track; it’s important for us.”

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The upgrade can go ahead with just the State’s money and is still expected to increase the ground’s capacity to 40,000, but Cook has urged Scott Morrison’s government to look closely at the benefits.

“It’s a really healthy project for them to get involved in because the community and football club go side-by-side,” he said.

“They’d be involved with a club that gets involved with so many community activities.

“So, there’s a lot of reasons why I think they should come on board with us. We’ll just have to wait-and-see.”

Work is due to start in early November next year following the T20 Cricket World Cup group games that will be played at the venue in mid-to-late October.

It means the northern end of the ground, where the Ford Stand and Gary Ablett Terrace currently stand, will be out of action for the 2021 AFL season.

Cook concedes that may impact on the number of matches played at GMHBA Stadium.

“We’ll still aim for the nine games with the reduced capacity, but it’s up to the AFL,” he said.

MEANWHILE, Cook has confirmed Geelong is undertaking a business study into whether 11 matches at GMHBA Stadium or a split of games between (either 10-1 or 9-2) is of most benefit to the club.

“That sits with our data analyst, Jono Lee,” Cook said. “He’s doing a lot of analytics in relation to the economics of it all. But, on top of that, there’s the social side of it.

“We’re completing surveys and doing forums with people in both areas.”

While the Cats’ position has been for all 11 home matches to be played in Geelong, Cook says “it’s not a matter of life or death”.

“As long as we get nine… we have to get nine,” he said.

“And the other two have to be big games. Then it’s worthwhile.

“If someone said to me, “we’ll continue with 9-2, and two of those games are against low-drawing clubs, I’d say “no way! We’ll have 11 down here”.”

Twitter: @tom_king79