Southeast Melbourne’s A-League expansion bid, going by the moniker of ‘Team11’ in lieu of a proper title, laid down a clear signal of intent in a Monday morning ceremony in the heart of Dandenong, Melbourne.
Team11 Projects Officer Matt Windley, southeastern businessman Gerry Ryan, City of Greater Dandenong councillor Jim Memeti and club ambassador and former Socceroo Vince Grella all took the stage at Monday’s ceremony, announcing plans for a $170 million stadium in the heart of Dandenong while boasting the region’s growing population and sporting culture was more than capable of supporting an A-League side on its own.
Revealed was the proposed location of the new stadium – on Dandenong’s Cheltenham Road – which was touted as being a few minutes’ walk from Dandenong train station and within a five-minute drive off the Monash Freeway and Eastlink. The assembled bid team was at pains to point out the ease of access as one of the strengths of the proposed stadium.
Windley, a former Herald Sun football reporter and the first full-time employee of the bid, clarified at the ceremony that the stadium, with the bid team exploring both private and local, state and federal funding for its construction, would serve as a multi-purpose venue.
“This is not just about creating a home for a football team,” Windley said.
“This venue can hold concerts, multicultural festivals and other entertainment and community events for everyone in the southeast.
“All 1.5 million of us counting, 1.5 (million) counting and growing.
“Build it here and they will come.”
Windley also clarified the proposed capacity of the stadium and made clear its proposed construction was dependant upon a successful A-League bid.
“Initially, capacity (will be) between 12 and 15,000, with a potential to expand to 20 thousand over time,” Windley added.
“This stadium will only be built if Team11 is admitted into the A-League.”
Later in the event, Memeti said while no funding for the proposed stadium had been secured yet, lobbying efforts to clinch funding commitments at all levels of government had already begun.
“We’ve started with the state, with the federal. We’ve got Gerry (Ryan) sitting next door, he’s got many friends I understand. So, it’s already started weeks and weeks ago,” he said.
Ryan, who is the owner of Jayco Australia, a former part owner of the Brisbane Roar and is already the primary sponsor of the region’s WNBL franchise, went into further detail on the funding.
“I’m looking at the options for the team,” he said.
“Certainly, I’ve already had a word to (Victorian treasurer) Tim Pallas (and) (Victorian premier) Daniel Andrews and no doubt we’ve got to go to the feds (as well).
“And we can look around at the (local) businesses. If we can get the community behind it, I’m sure we can get the funding for it.
“(It) wasn’t all that positive from the treasurer (Tim Pallas), he said I haven’t got any more money for another stadium. But what I did express is that it’s not about the stadium, it’s about bringing a community together.
“They’re talking about $170 million for the stadium, (but) that’s the finished product. You wouldn’t need to start there, you’re probably looking at $120 million for a 10,000 stadium, sell out the 10,000 stadium then you build an extra five thousand seats.”
With the proposed stadium being contingent on the Team11 bid being successful, and FFA being clear in their favourable outlook of bids that come with a stadium already prepared, a chicken and egg situation may be emerging.
Asked about the timeframe involved in the construction of the proposed stadium, Memeti admitted it would not be ready in time for the proposed 2019-20 entrance into the A-League, with a number of other potential locations identified as being temporary bases for that first season.
“The council actually owns the land,” Memeti said.
“So we would have to seek support from the state government and federal government and also private business people out there.
“We would hopefully be thinking of maybe 20-21 (for the stadium to be completed).
“We’re looking at different options at the moment (regarding a temporary home), which would either be in Dandenong or Casey.
“So, we haven’t confirmed where it would be at the moment.
“We have identified Casey Fields, we think it could be a base for the first 12 months until a base could be built.”
Casey Fields would likely serve as the training base for any successful Team11 bid, with Windley later confirming a W-League side would be based there, likely splitting their home games between there and the proposed stadium.
Windley also stated that any Team11 Youth League bid would be very community-focused, with the potential of sharing its home games around the region floated as a viable option.