Melbourne City were the benchmark in the A-League last season, lifting the Premiers Plate in May and eventually the Championship in late June.
It was their first taste of A-League success after years of hard work on and off the pitch.
The club has invested heavily since City Football Group (CFG) took over the Melbourne Heart in 2014, initially building a $15 million City Football Academy in Bundoora, in the city’s north, which has housed the club for the past few years.
In what seems like a strategic investment however, the club revealed late last year that they will move from their Bundoora headquarters and relocate to Casey Fields in Melbourne’s south east.
Earlier this month, the club announced construction had begun on the new elite City Football Academy facility within the 84-hectare Casey Fields Sporting Precinct.
“The first stage of construction includes the central elite training pitch, with its 115m x 115m hybrid grass surface, and is due for completion by the end of 2021. The new pitch is adjacent to the site’s existing four full-sized pitches – one grass and three synthetic – which will be primarily used by the Club’s Academy teams and for City in the Community programs, as well as for City of Casey school and club programs.
“The next stage of construction will see the development of Melbourne City’s new two-storey administration and high-performance building at Casey Fields, currently in detailed design phase. Construction on that phase of the facility is due to commence in the coming months, with completion estimated for mid-2022,” a Melbourne City FC statement read.
Stage three of construction will look to implement a 4000-capacity mini stadium in a significant space in the precinct.
With the club’s A-League players to officially begin training in the facility in August, recent developments in regards to the possibility of a 15,000-capacity stadium in Dandenong may see the end of the team playing all of their games at AAMI Park, in the years to come.
The Victorian Government has already pledged $100,000 in funding for a feasibility review and development of a business case to build the 15,000-seat boutique stadium, with the City of Greater Dandenong also set to match that contribution.
According to Cranbourne Star News, The Greater Dandenong Council is lobbying for $110 million to build the stadium, which will also host festivals, concerts, rugby matches, alongside hosting future Melbourne City games.
While of course at this stage there is no guarantee the stadium will be built, Melbourne City head honchos may have to grapple with the idea of permanently leaving AAMI Park behind, the stadium they have hosted games at since their inception.
With Victory ditching their deal with Marvel Stadium to move all their games back to AAMI Park next season and Western United set to play the majority of their games at AAMI for at least the next two seasons, the 30,000-capacity rectangular stadium is not short of regular football content.
If the proposed stadium does get the go-ahead, City may look to move all of their home matches to Dandenong, and alongside their new academy location, this can prove to be beneficial in establishing a clear geographic identity.
They will have a stronger presence in the local areas and will have the chance to better connect with the local football community and grow their membership base.
City should also still have a reasonable chunk of members who live in the south and south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, with a report from 2018 stating 28% of their members came from those areas.
Adversely, a move away from AAMI Park has the possibility to alienate members and fans who may not want to travel to the proposed stadium for reasons such as proximity.
Sharing the home games between the stadiums could be a viable option, but also brings on the challenge of not having a singular home ground, as well as match scheduling conflicts.
A big call from City administrators may need to be made in the end and not all members and fans will be pleased.