Constructed for the Melbourne Olympics in 1955 it was used as the warm up track before athletes made their way onto the main arena at the MCG. The original construction also included a velodrome, second ground and swimming complex (the current Lexus Centre) on the site and over the years the complex has been used for a wide range of sports (including Greyhound Racing). It was also the site of one of Australia’s most famous sporting moments when John Landy stopped mid-race to help fallen rival Ron Clarke, resume running and went on to win the race. The stadium’s contribution to football in this state also cannot be understated. Over the year numerous World Cup Qualifying games, NSL Grand Finals and A-League Matches have been held here. It was the first stadium in Australia to be officially recognised by FIFA.
Now with the Athletics move to Albert Park a fait accompli there is a question of how the land will be used going forward. As has been reported previously the AFL club Collingwood have already made overtures to the state government in a bid to gain control of the land. They want to build an oval there to use for training purposes and as expressed in the article today Mr Brumby seems to be indicating the a training ground will indeed be the end result.
But why an oval ground, with the new Stadium being built next door going to be Victoria’s premier rectangular ground for the next 30-40 years surely it would make more sense to provide another football pitch to be used for training by Melbourne Storm and Victory. Geoff Lord needs to be in there repairing some bridges with the state government to ensure that this opportunity is not lost. This will be a true test of how far football has come over the last few years.
On the positive side with the announcement of a $50 Million redevelopment of the Albert Park stadium to incorporate the new Athletics Track, Victorian Football with gain a revamped Bob Jane Stadium. South Melbourne Football Club has indicated they are working closely with the state government to ensure they secure their future at the ground.
Of course there will be many people outraged that the state government has shown such disregard to our history, Olympic and Football. Why spend $50 Million on Bob Jane Stadium when $25-35 Million spent on Olympic Park could have produced the same result. But in the end football is the winner here.