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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Eddie McGuire explains the new track

Eddie McGuire explains the new track

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1Eddie McGuire explains the new track Empty Eddie McGuire explains the new track on Tue May 17, 2011 10:26 am



Athletics runs out the winner in Olympic Park refit

By Eddie McGuire
Sunday Herald Sun
May 15, 2011

IN THE next few months the wrecking ball will come down on the Olympic Park athletics track.
For some in the athletics world this is seen as a travesty. For others, it's a new beginning and a chance to have a home to call their own.

That the ground will be handed over to the Collingwood Football Club makes for some juicy headlines and the fact I am president of Collingwood and a board member of Athletics Australia gives the conspiracy theorists something to play with.

Throw in that Athletics Australia president Rob Fildes played 14 games for the Magpies (as an amateur so he could continue as Australian decathlon champion) and there's more ammunition for some.

For those in the athletics world looking to point the finger, once they get past their inaction over the years, they can look straight at the owners of this newspaper.

Lachlan Murdoch wanted a ground for his rugby league team, the Melbourne Storm, and co-existing in a cold, asbestos-ridden Olympic Park with athletics, soccer, rugby and monster trucks etc was not his vision for one of his premier sporting products.

Then-premier Steve Bracks agreed. The time was nigh for a rectangular stadium of quality that would be home to the Storm and give Melbourne the chance to win a Super Rugby franchise. Eventually the Melbourne Rebels came to be.

It also led to the formation of the Melbourne Heart A-League soccer team.

At that stage the premier needed land.

That's when Collingwood received a call.

The Magpies, like athletics, had failed to upgrade its ground at Victoria Park for decades and, by 1999, it had become unsuitable for AFL football and, by 2004, even as a training ground.

An opportunity arose at the old Olympic swimming stadium in what became the Westpac Centre. Collingwood pays full commercial rent for the venue and an MCG training ground.

In signing the deal, Collingwood's contract stated that in the case our training ground (built over what was a carpark and the Olympic Park dog track) was to be recommissioned, Collingwood would be given a ground no further in distance from the Westpac Centre. That left two options. The athletics stadium or across the road in front of Rod Laver Arena.

That was the contract.

For the greater good of sport and to help facilitate one of the world's greatest sporting precincts, Collingwood gave up its oval and has travelled down a "goat track" to a training ground on Punt Rd. The first thought was to build a new athletics track on Gosch's Paddock. But tennis made a bold play and in getting its development on the north side of Olympic Boulevard, it took up what was left of the land not legislated as "passive recreation ground".

Whether Collingwood was there or not, the legislation demands more "free" land had to be opened up.

The old aths track was dead.

At one stage athletics was headed for the suburbs.

Fildes and his Athletics Victoria team, along with Peter Hertan, the executive director of Sport and Recreation Victoria, with the support of Collingwood, then went into battle to get a result of significance for athletics.

The sport somehow over 55 years had seen an Olympics and a Commonwealth Games come and go and miss out on a designated stadium. Not any more.

With swimming relocated to Albert Park, the old Lake Oval is a perfect fit.

Yes, our memories have been of great nights at the old venue and school sports.

The story of John Landy's sportsmanship, the building of careers of Clark, Elliott, Pollock, Norman, Boyle and Freeman to mention a few will never fade. But it was when Jana Pittman told me she won a world championship by running around Collingwood's training ground because she could never get on to Olympic Park because of all the other activities that the realisation came to me that nostalgia was killing the future of athletics.

This week Sebastian Coe told me the new venue at Albert Park was far superior to the wind-affected, antiquated old arena.

Just as the Pies made the MCG their own and watched membership go from 22,000 to 70,000 in just over a decade after leaving our spiritual home, athletics has a purpose-built arena with parking for buses, television-standard lighting, a new track, warm-up facilities, a cross-country course and use of the sporting infrastructure and transport in the shadows of the city to call its own.

EVEN better, the Victorian Institute of Sport has new facilities at the same venue.

What also will happen is that Collingwood will reinstate a two-lane athletics track at the Westpac Centre and, hopefully with Victorian Government support, build infrastructure to allow for passive runners to use the track, the Tan track, the city bike paths and even the Collingwood facilities with a special emphasis on women.

If you want to have a training session you can't get on the aths track and you either get changed in your car or in one of those toilets around the gardens if you want to run the Tan.

Let's make it a city hub for our extensive bike paths.

A safe, lit, world-class facility.

There is so much that can be done for the community, inner-city sport and after-school and weekend activities.

Sport is all about the people not the buildings.

2Eddie McGuire explains the new track Empty Re: Eddie McGuire explains the new track on Sun May 22, 2011 2:49 pm


I like it.

When do the VAL offices move away?
When does the track get shut Vs the new one opening for business?

3Eddie McGuire explains the new track Empty Re: Eddie McGuire explains the new track on Tue May 24, 2011 12:22 am


Recent message from AV to clubs:


The department of Sport and Recreation has instructed the Melbourne and Olympic Park Trust to maintain Olympic Park as an athletics venue for
competition and training until the new State Athletics Centre at Albert
Park is officially open. At this stage, it is anticipated that the Albert
Park stadium will be commissioned and open for use by mid to late

Accordingly, the Athletics Victoria administration office will move to
the State Athletics Centre, into temporary office premises (located in the
main grandstand) in September 2011. The new purpose built administration
facility, which will house Athletics Victoria, Athletics Australia and
Little Athletics Australia, is scheduled for completion in mid-2012. This
will be located at the rear of the main grandstand (Albert Park Lake end)"

Major issues with the venue OTTOMH:
Very poor access to public transport at AP c.f. OP
Significant interference with use of the venue during peak championship period due to Grand Prix event and pre/post-construction.

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