Stadium pledge clears way for Gold Coast - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stadium pledge clears way for Gold Coast

By Sam Lienert 09/03/2009 07:43:27 PM Comments (0)

The AFL is expected to make its long-awaited announcement next week that the Gold Coast will enter the competition in 2011 after a pledge from the Queensland government removed the last major hurdle.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced on Monday her government will grant $60 million towards redeveloping Carrara to help turn the Gold Coast venue into a 23,000-seat stadium.

Funding for an AFL-standard stadium had been the one significant stumbling block to the league fulfilling its stated intention of having the expansion club enter the league in two years' time.

The Gold Coast Council has already committed $20 million towards the $130 million redevelopment.

The Queensland government's pledge is contingent on the federal government also making a contribution towards the remaining $50 million shortfall.

The AFL is still in negotiations with the federal government, but Bligh said she expected her national counterparts to follow suit.

"If these conditions are fulfilled - and I have every reason to believe they will be - Gold Coasters will get a new Aussie Rules team to cheer and a new home to cheer them in," Bligh said.

As recently as last month's meeting, the AFL commission postponed granting the Gold Coast consortium a licence, despite having approved the group's business plan last October.

But the league said Monday's announcement would pave the way for the commission to finalise its decision at its next meeting on Friday week.

"I want to thank (Gold Coast chairman) John Witheriff and his team for harnessing the support of more than 42,000 people who have given their support to the formation of an AFL team on the Gold Coast," AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said.

"This decision is a vindication of the support of Gold Coast families."

The AFL has already approved the appointment of a coach and recruiting manager, as well as draft concessions for the club, which will enter the TAC Cup under-18 competition this year as a precursor to AFL entry.

Witheriff said Monday's announcement was a significant step towards the Gold Coast becoming the AFL's 17th club.

"All the pieces are falling into place for a successful outcome," he said.

"We believe the AFL are close to making a decision and the commitment from the Queensland Government to support AFL on the Gold Coast and the local community is very encouraging."

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