The AFL's purchase of Etihad Stadium has been hailed as a game-changer for the ground's tenant clubs, which have struggled to profit from existing arrangements.
The long-anticipated deal, believed to be worth about $200 million, was reached on Friday after 15 months of negotiations between the AFL and the ground's consortium of owners.
It is expected to result in major upgrades to the 54,000-capacity stadium while providing a significant financial boost for St Kilda, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, who will be free to strike more-profitable tenancy deals.
Photo: Greenstone Girl (cc: by-nc)
"Etihad Stadium is a fantastic place to play and watch football - but it's no secret the economics of the stadium deal have operated as a significant handbrake on the progress of our club for many years," St Kilda chief Matt Finnis said.
"As a primary tenant club, we now look forward to working closely with the AFL to improve arrangements for the Saints, our players, members and fans via enhancing the facilities and re-engineering the match returns."
Photo: Russell Charters (cc: by-nc-sa)
The stadium was scheduled to be transferred to the AFL in 2025 under a deal with the ownership consortium, but AFL boss Gillon McLachlan had made clear his desire to bring the takeover forward.
The venue will continue to host other sports and concerts and the AFL is expected to formally take over the stadium's ownership and management in early November.
Etihad Airways will continue to hold the stadium's naming rights until 2019 when it will have options to extend the agreement.