• An artist's impression of a new stadium in Dandenong for the Team 11 A-League bid (Team 11)Source: Team 11
Melbourne’s “Team 11” A-League bid committee are banking on “pretty significant” state government support to turn their dream of landing an expansion spot into a reality.
By
Dave Lewis

6 May 2018 - 1:50 PM  UPDATED 6 May 2018 - 1:50 PM

While endowed with the backing of three councils on their south-east Melbourne patch, and due to be gifted free land next to Dandenong Station to construct their 15,000-capacity home, the $170 million needed to fund the project has yet to be secured.

The stadium, to be designed by same group which gave life to AAMI Park, is crucial to Team 11’s case for inclusion when the FFA picks two from up to 10 bidders for a spot in an expanded competition in 2019-2020.

“There are not many sporting grounds in Australia which get off the ground without pretty significant state government support,” bid spokesman Matt Windley said in the wake of last week’s design unveiling.

“We’ll be talking to state and federal government ... having council land removes some of the bureaucratic hurdles.

“It’s going to be a pretty heavy state government conversation and hopefully [we’ve put] together a compelling case as to why it would be a sound investment.

“It’s not just about building a soccer ground ... it’s about a piece of infrastructure which can be of benefit to the region and a venue for entertainment events and concerts.

“We are also looking at potential private partnerships as well. Nothing is off the table at this stage.”

There was no money allocated to the new stadium in the recent state budget - a goal Team 11, who count Socceroos great Vince Grella as an ambassador, were never aiming for due to the timing of their announcement.

But they will be lobbying hard between now and November’s state election, with Labor favoured to retain power.

Despite the uncertainty over funding, they are undeterred in their quest to become Melbourne’s third A-League entity in the next round of expansion.

“The aim is 2019-2020 and no matter what happens the stadium won’t be ready by then.

“It could be a case of getting in on that date and playing in temporary venues around the south-east, such as Casey Fields.

“That’s one option ... there’s no point representing a specific location and then taking games to the city, other than Melbourne derbies because no local grounds would be able to safely accommodate those numbers of people.

“Meanwhile you would have people signing up for the following season at Dandenong Stadium.”

The stadium would house the Team 11’s A-League, W-League and youth teams, with the possibility of also hosting NRL and Super Rugby matches.

Another possible scenario might be to focus on the next round of expansion in 2020-2021, and have the gleaming new venue up and running to make “a big first impression”.

“Those are conversations for down the track and as things stand we are all chips on the table for 18 months time,” Windley added.

“It all depends on the parameters put in place by the governing body. Either way you absolutely keep your hat thrown into the ring.”

While the $170 million is a hefty price tag yet to be met, there are options for staging the stadium build or lowering its capacity, according to Windley.

“We have a 1.5 million catchment area, with 150 nationalities, with no team and no club playing or training here and the demand for a community hub is sorely needed.”