Gold Coast deal in the bag: AFL boss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gold Coast deal in the bag: AFL boss

By Crystal Ja 07/05/2009 05:21:57 PM Comments (0)

The Gold Coast's entry into the AFL in 2011 is all but assured following a $36 million pledge from the federal government to help build its new stadium.

Federal infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday announced the government would fill the funding gap for the revamped 25,000-seat stadium at Carrara, clearing the way for a full licence.

The commonwealth's $36 million injection bridges the shortfall needed for the $126 million stadium, after contributions from the Queensland government, local council and the AFL.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou called it the last piece of the jigsaw and said the Gold Coast's inclusion into the league was now a sure thing.

"It's been a long time in the making and these things don't happen overnight," he said.

"But there's nothing else that has to be achieved and the only other matter ... is a mere formality of paperwork.

"The Gold Coast's dream of an AFL team is a reality."

But a full licence won't be granted until an agreement between council and the Queensland government to hand over ownership of stadium land is formalised.

Demetriou, joined also by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis and Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke at the announcement, said that was imminent.

"From our perspective, it's all systems go and we'll have to come up here for another announcement soon," he said.

Clarke, a former Melburnian and footy fanatic, said he had been expecting the full licence on Thursday, adding the AFL could be forgiven for "milking it for all it's worth".

Demetriou also unveiled designs for the stadium, sporting sections of the teams colours of red, yellow and blue.

The venue capacity can also be expanded beyond 25,000 if needed in years to come.

There are hopes the stadium will one day host Twenty20 cricket matches and with any luck, the 2018 Commonwealth Games, should the Gold Coast win the event.

Construction is expected to begin sometime this year and be completed in time for round one, 2011.

Demetriou said the stadium alone would create hundreds of jobs, while the club, fully running, would contribute about $30 million a year into the local economy.

Albanese said the $36 million pledge was the largest single contribution from the federal government's $800 million Community Infrastructure Program.

Carlton host Fremantle at Carrara on Saturday night in the first of three 2009 fixtures at the venue, which has a current capacity of 11,000.

A further three regular-season matches will be played there in 2010 during the renovation period.

A western Sydney franchise is scheduled to enter the AFL in 2012, a year after the Gold Coast.

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