A-League club Western United FC will build a brand new stadium in the Tarneit district on the outskirts of Wyndham, west of Melbourne. Construction of the venue is expected to cost AU$150 m (€ 91 million), AU$30 m (€ 18 million) less as initially estimated a year ago. Construction of the facility will be possible through the use of the "value capture" financial model and should start in early 2021.
Western United FC is a relatively new team in the Australian soccer scene. They will inaugurate their second season in the Australian A-League at the end of December. The first season was quite successful for the club. Western Melbourne-based club finished 5th after the regular season and advanced to the play-offs, where they reached the semi-finals. The new stadium was one of the main prerequisites for Western United in the club's application to join the A-League.
Value capture as a stadium financing model
The investment will not be funded by either the federal or state government. The project will be financed by the local government using the concept of "value capture." Karl Fitzgerald, research director at Prosper Australia, says this solution makes it easier for a private developer to work with the local government to achieve mutual benefits. This financial model could help accelerate Australia's economic recovery from COVID-19.
Wyndham City Council's Director of Transactions, Investments and Major Projects, Kate Roffey, said the council had essentially given land to Western United.
“We’re providing, at no cost, the piece of land, apart from about six and a half hectares for the stadium itself. Anything that the developer wants to develop on, they pay for… purchased at market rate, stays in the ownership of council and we use the profit to pay for the stadium,” Roffey said.
It has also been announced that Wyndham City Council - the authorities of the fastest growing area in Australia has handed over 100 hectares of land to the Western United FC.
When will work on the new stadium start?
Originally, it was announced that works on the new facility would start in spring 2020. However, construction was delayed, possibly due to the lack of land sales in the stadium area. Ultimately, it was agreed that the works are to start in early 2021 and end in late 2022 or early 2023. Perhaps, if all goes well, the 2022/23 season will be inaugurated in a new stadium.
In September of this year, the club and Wyndham City Council declared the construction of a new training facility, including a 5,000-seat stand, adjacent to the planned stadium. The new training venue will include two grass pitches (the main pitch will have a tribune) and one synthetic field. This investment will be financed by Wyndham City Council and the Western Melbourne Group. The football club assured that they would also make these facilities available to local residents. The construction of the training centre is to cost Aus $25 m (€ 15 million).
During the 2019/20 season, Western United FC played their home games at GMHBA Stadium, Mars Stadium and one game at the Whitten Oval. In the upcoming A-League season, they will play at GMHBA Stadium again. They also consider playing some fixtures in Melbourne in an unconfirmed location at this point.
Author: Tomasz Sobura