Waverley Park

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Waverley Park
Ricoh Centre
Waverley Park.jpg
Exterior of the Sir Kenneth Luke Stand in October 2006.
Former namesVFL Park
Address2A Stadium Circuit
Mulgrave, Victoria
Coordinates 37°55′32″S145°11′19″E / 37.92556°S 145.18861°E / -37.92556; 145.18861 Coordinates: 37°55′32″S145°11′19″E / 37.92556°S 145.18861°E / -37.92556; 145.18861
Owner Mirvac
Operator Hawthorn Football Club
Capacity 8,000 (formerly 72,000) [1]
Record attendance92,935 – Hawthorn vs Collingwood, 6 June 1981
Broke ground5 January 1966
RenovatedAugust 2000 – 2006
Construction cost A$3m (original)

Waverley Park (originally VFL Park) was an Australian rules football stadium in Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia. For most of its history, its purpose was as a neutral venue and used by all Victorian-based Victorian Football League/Australian Football League clubs. However, during the 1990s it became the home ground of both the Hawthorn and St Kilda football clubs. It ceased to be used for AFL games from the 2000 season, following the opening of Docklands Stadium. It is currently used as a training venue by Hawthorn. The main grandstand and oval are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. [2] The seating capacity is now 8,000, down from a peak of 72,000.

Australian rules football Contact sport invented in Melbourne

Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, or simply called Aussie rules, football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field, often a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between goal posts or between goal and behind posts.

Stadium Place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events

A stadium is a place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a tiered structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.

Mulgrave, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Mulgrave is a suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 21 km south-east of Melbourne's central business district. Its local government area is the City of Monash. At the 2016 Census, Mulgrave had a population of 19,368.



Waverley Park (then VFL Park) was first conceived in 1959 when delegates from the 12 VFL clubs requested the league to find land that was suitable for the building of a new stadium. In September 1962, the VFL had secured a 212-acre (860,000 m2) block of grazing and market garden land in Mulgrave. This area was chosen because it was believed that with the effects of urban sprawl and the proposed building of the South-Eastern (later called Monash) freeway, the area would become the demographic centre of Melbourne. The VFL reportedly lobbied the state government to construct a train connection to the stadium, but that never occurred.

Australian Football League Australian rules football competition

The Australian Football League (AFL) is the pre-eminent and only fully professional men's competition of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport's governing body, and is responsible for controlling the laws of the game. Originally known as the Victorian Football League (VFL), it was founded in 1896 as a breakaway competition from the Victorian Football Association (VFA), with its inaugural season commencing the following year. The VFL, with the aim of becoming a national competition, began expanding beyond Victoria to other Australian states in the 1980s, and in 1990 changed its name to the AFL.

Urban sprawl Expansion of auto-oriented, low-density development in suburbs

Urban sprawl or suburban sprawl mainly refers to the unrestricted growth in many urban areas of housing, commercial development, and roads over large expanses of land, with little concern for urban planning. In addition to describing a particular form of urbanization, the term also relates to the social and environmental consequences associated with this development. In Continental Europe the term "peri-urbanisation" is often used to denote similar dynamics and phenomena, although the term urban sprawl is currently being used by the European Environment Agency. There is widespread disagreement about what constitutes sprawl and how to quantify it. For example, some commentators measure sprawl only with the average number of residential units per acre in a given area. But others associate it with decentralization, discontinuity, segregation of uses, and so forth.

The Monash Freeway is a major urban freeway in Victoria, Australia, linking Melbourne's CBD to its south-eastern suburbs and beyond to the Gippsland region. It carries up to 180,000 vehicles per day and is one of Australia's busiest freeways. The entire stretch of the Monash Freeway bears the designation M1. The freeway was originally shown in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan as part of the F9 and F14 Freeway corridors.

The original plans were for a stadium catering for up to 157,000 patrons, which would have made it one of the biggest stadiums in the world. To accommodate the large number of patrons the members' stand was to be extended around the whole ground. However, in 1982 and/or 1983 when the extensions were due to commence, the Government of Victoria (led by Victorian Premier John Cain, who was a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club) refused to approve the plans for the upgrade because it would have threatened the Melbourne Cricket Ground's (MCG) right to host the VFL Grand Final (the league-owned VFL Park had originally been built with the intent of replacing the MCG as the permanent home of the grand final, but the Victorian government, with interests in the MCG, refused to allow its capacity upgrade). Hence, no further development ever occurred and the capacity was set at just over 100,000 patrons (later reduced to 72,000). [3]

Government of Victoria state government of Victoria, Australia

The Government of Victoria is the executive administrative authority of the Australian state of Victoria.

Premier of Victoria head of government for the state of Victoria, Australia

The Premier of Victoria is the head of government in the Australian state of Victoria. The Premier is appointed by the governor of Victoria, and is the leader of the political party able to secure a majority in the Legislative Assembly.

John Cain (41st Premier of Victoria) 41st Premier of Victoria, Australia

John Cain is a former Australian politician who was the 41st Premier of Victoria, in office from 1982 to 1990 as leader of the Labor Party. During his time as premier, changes were enforced to the practices of various institutions in Melbourne which discriminated against women, while other reforms were introduced such as liberalised shop trading hours and liquor laws, equal opportunity initiatives, and occupational health and safety legislation.

The playing surface of 200 metres long and 160 metres wide was the biggest in the league. This caused some controversy and the boundary lines were repainted and goals were relocated to make the playing area a similar size to the MCG's playing surface.[ when? ][ ambiguous ][ clarification needed ]


Under the direction of architect Reginald E. Padey, work started at the site on 5 January 1966 when the VFL President Sir Kenneth Luke turned the first sod. Construction of the stadium involved the excavation of 378,000 cubic yards (289,000 m3) of topsoil, and the surface of the oval was lowered to a depth of 27 feet (8.2 metres) from the surrounding area. The spoil was used to form the banks for some sections of the stadium.

Sir Kenneth George Luke was a self-made millionaire manufacturer and a leading Australian rules football administrator in the Victorian Football League (VFL). He was president of the VFL between 1956 and 1971 and president of the Carlton Football Club from 1938 to 1955.

The foundations of the K.G. Luke stand were laid in 1969 and more than 12 miles (19 kilometres) of concrete terracing was laid around the ground. On 18 April 1970, Fitzroy and Geelong played the first game at Waverley Park, in front of a crowd of 25,887. However, the stadium was far from completed, with only the first level of the K.G. Luke Stand having been finished. The rest of the stadium had only been constructed to ground level.

Fitzroy Football Club Australian rules football club

The Fitzroy Football Club, nicknamed the Lions or the Roys, is an Australian rules football club formed in 1883 to represent the inner-Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria and was a foundation member club of the Victorian Football League on its inception in 1897. The club experienced some early success in the league and was the first club to win a VFL Grand Final. It also achieved a total of eight VFL premierships between 1898 and 1944, and more recently three VAFA promotions in 2009, 2012 and 2018 . The club ran into financial difficulties in the 1980s after decades of poor on-field performance and was forced to merge its AFL playing operations with the Brisbane Bears at the end of the 1996 season to form the Brisbane Lions.

Geelong Football Club Australian rules football club

The Geelong Football Club, nicknamed the Cats, are a professional Australian rules football club based in the city of Geelong, Australia. The club competes in the Australian Football League (AFL), the highest level of Australian rules football in Australia. The Cats have been the VFL/AFL premiers nine times, with three in the AFL era. The Cats have also won ten McClelland Trophies.

The Public Reserve Stands encircling the rest of the stadium were finished in 1974, at a cost of $4.5 million, and the car park was extended to fit a total of 25,000 cars. Lighting was added in May 1977, at a cost of $1.2 million, in time for the first of the 1977 night-series televised matches. In 1982, a monochrome video matrix scoreboard was installed, for the first time in VFL history, displaying instant replay highlights. In 1984, the arena was re-turfed and the drainage system upgraded. Two years later a mosaic mural, commemorating many great names of VFL football, was installed on the grandstand façade above the members' entrance. During the 1988 season, automatic turnstiles were introduced at the members' entrance.

Memorable events

Football records

In its history, 732 AFL/VFL matches were played at Waverley Park, 70 of which were finals and one a grand final.

Special events

Waverley Park hosted many special events other than Australian rules football. These included:


In 1988 when concrete cancer was discovered in the Southern Stand at the MCG. This provided the imputas to replace the 50-year-old stand with a state-of-the-art facility that was completed in 1992 at a cost of $150 million, subsequently named the Great Southern Stand. This affected Waverley Park's attendances as the ground once hosted many blockbuster games and finals, they were then mostly moved to the more modern, larger and more centrally located Melbourne Cricket Ground where the ground could handle up to 100,000 spectators compared to 72,000 at Waverley.

In 1999 the Australian Football League announced that it would not schedule any further matches at Waverley Park. Instead it would aim to sell the ground and its surrounding land, hoping to raise a sum of $30 million to $80 million to go towards the construction of a new stadium under construction at Docklands at the western end of the Melbourne central business district. [7] Later the League would also argue that a portion of the income from the sale of Waverley would provide further finance for the development of AFL football as a national code in Australia. [7] The last official AFL game was played in 1999 between Hawthorn and Sydney in front of a sell-out crowd of 72,130.

After the decision to close the venue was made by the AFL, the ground's drawbacks were highlighted. Despite an excellent playing surface and its own water storage, focus shifted to its unfavourable position, and its antiquated corporate and spectator facilities, such as the 17-year-old sepia-toned video screen. Even though Waverley Park was only 20 minutes from the Melbourne CBD (although 50 minutes in peak hour traffic) and was serviced by the Monash Freeway, successive governments had failed to provide adequate public transport to the venue. The stadium's car park was large enough to service its crowds, but the access roads were incapable of dispersing them, and long delays for driving spectators were common. Spectators felt distanced from the game in the huge arena, [8] and seating was only partly undercover giving it the unflattering nickname "Arctic Park" [7] which was due to its location on an exposed site, with the prevailing south-westerly winds bringing rain to Melbourne's eastern suburbs directly from Port Phillip Bay.

In 2000, AFL pre-season cup matches were played at the venue, and Victorian Football League games also took place there, including finals and the grand final. Melbourne's Eastern Football League also played division 1 and division 2 Grand Finals at the venue at the conclusion of the 2000 season. The 2000 VFL Grand Final was the last official game of football played at the venue. After that game, Waverley Park was not maintained and vandals eventually broke into the site and damaged the facilities. The playing surface, once one of the best in Australia, was reduced to a field of weeds. Victorian MP Mary Delahunty called on the AFL to mow the dilapidated stadium, as it was still under their control. [8]

On 10 December 2001 the AFL confirmed that the land was sold to housing developer Mirvac to assist in financing the construction of the Docklands Stadium. The ground was demolished starting on 11 December 2002. [8] While often seen as something of a failure, Waverley Park actually served an important strategic purpose for the VFL/AFL. With a viable alternative venue for the Grand Final and other events, the AFL possessed a critical bargaining chip in negotiations with the Melbourne Cricket Club over MCG access.

Current status

Following its cessation as a venue for AFL football, the stadium fell into a state of disrepair, and anticipating complete demolition, the City of Greater Dandenong, on behalf of football patrons in southeast Victoria, moved quickly to nominate the whole of the facility and its grounds for heritage listing. The basis for the nomination is that the stadium was the first major stadium purpose built for Australian rules football, that its construction and ownership by the VFL provided the basis on which the league built its power base and eventual evolution to become the AFL, that it hosted the 1991 AFL Grand Final, that night-time cricket games were first held at the ground, and that the members' (or K.G. Luke) stand features a mural of football legends by noted artist Harold Freedman. The state-level heritage listing of Waverley Park has been cited by the executive director of Heritage Victoria as the seminal case for an understanding of the cultural heritage significance of 20th-century places.

Successful lobbying saw Heritage Victoria grant legislative protection to the site and, beginning in December 2002, portions of the stadium were demolished except for the members' stand and the members' stand mural. [2] The surrounding car park has been replaced by suburban housing, including 1,400 new dwellings for 3,500 people. In homage to the original place and its purpose, the street layout mirrors the original car park and street names honour Waverley's patron Sir Kenneth Luke, architect Reginald Padey and other associations with football and cricket. The members' stand is visible from the nearby Monash Freeway; however, due to new noise walls being installed on the freeway alignment, the stand's visibility from the freeway has been significantly reduced.

The oval itself and the remaining section of the members stand have been redeveloped into a state-of-the-art training and administrative facility for the Hawthorn Football Club and the local community. The facility incorporates an MCG-dimension oval, the size of the playing arena having been reduced from its original size, and includes a 25-metre heated indoor swimming pool, four refrigerated ice tanks, a gymnasium with a 60-metre running track and a warm-up area with projection and screen facilities to simulate match-day conditions. The grandstand has seating for around 2,000 patrons with the seating in the top level of the grandstand having been retained.

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  2. 1 2 "Victorian Heritage Database". Hertitige Victoria. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  3. Bednall, Jai. "The 157,000-seat super stadium that never was". news.com.au. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  4. "Club History". Essendon FC . Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  5. "Round 10, 1996" . Retrieved 28 February 2009.
  6. "Part D: Pre-Match and Match Provisions". Laws Of Australian Football 2014 (PDF). Melbourne, Australia: Australian Football League. pp. 31–32. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  7. 1 2 3 Hay, R., Lazenby, C., Haig-Muir, M. and Mewett, P. (2002) 'Whither Sporting Heritage: reflections on debates in Victoria about Waverley Park and the Melbourne Cricket Ground', in Dr David S Jones (ed.), 20th Century Heritage – Our Recent Cultural Legacy: Proceedings of the Australia ICOMOS National Conference 2001, pp. 367-370, University of Adelaide, Adelaide.
  8. 1 2 3 "Waverley Park". Austadiums.com. 12 March 2006. Retrieved 27 February 2009.