Collins defends Dome's AFL club deals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Collins defends Dome's AFL club deals

By Roger Vaughan 15/10/2008 08:27:42 PM Comments (0)

Telstra Dome boss Ian Collins has defended its revenue arrangements with AFL clubs, saying they are not worse off at the venue than other sports.

The league is keen to set up new deals at the Telstra Dome and the MCG for cash-strapped clubs such as North Melbourne and Melbourne.

Collins said his venue is willing to talk, but denied other clubs such as soccer's Melbourne Victory were at an advantage.

"They (non-AFL sporting clubs) don't really get better deals, that's where it's wrong," Collins said.

"We're always open for discussions on anything.

"It's fair to say, they (the AFL) would love to get more money out of games, whether it's here or anywhere else.

"But you've got to understand that some of the information you (media) get is pretty-well sanitised."

Last month, it was reported AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou had told clubs that improving the stadium deals for clubs at venues such as Telstra Dome was a high priority.

Clubs such as North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, who play home games at the Telstra Dome, have complained for several years they don't earn enough from their revenue arrangements with the ground.

Telstra Dome's current arrangement with the AFL gives the venue a minimum of 42 games there per season.

Collins dismissed speculation in the last few weeks that the league might look at a third Melbourne venue as a way of putting the pressure on the MCG and Telstra Dome.

"It's called a stick, isn't it?" he said.

Clubs are becoming increasingly concerned about their venue arrangements as the league plans for expansion teams on the Gold Coast and western Sydney.

Collins, the former Carlton president and also once the AFL's operations manager, said the second Sydney licence must appeal to much more than the west of the city.

"It's going to be a challenge for football because it's fair to say there are some Melbourne clubs who still have some work to do," Collins said of the expansion plans.

"If western Sydney is (just) western Sydney, I think they have a problem - but if they embrace the rest of New South Wales, like Canberra, Wagga, Albury, it might have a chance."

Meanwhile, the Dome's once-maligned turf is now in such good shape, the ground is even selling some turf stock.

Collins has praised curator Gavin Darby and the new portable lighting system installed this year for dramatically reducing the amount of turf replacement.

The venue only had to replace 500 square metres of turf this year, after several years where the average was around 15,000.

Telstra Dome, which features a retractable roof, opened in 2000 and the playing surface was plagued with problems for several years.

One part of the arena was once derisively referred to as "Death Valley".

Telstra Dome now uses a battery of portable lights to keep the grass healthy.

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