New era beckons at Kardinia Park

Published: 13 February 2024

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By Sport and Recreation Victoria

Kardinia Park’s redevelopment keeps the stadium as Australia’s best regional sports and entertainment venue, delivering over 120 local building jobs.

Due for completion in time for Round 1 of the 2024 men’s AFL season, the project will increase the stadium’s capacity to 40,000.

The centrepiece of the upgrade is a new 14,000 seat, two-tier stand recently announced as the Joel Selwood Stand. Meanwhile, the new northern plaza, known as the Djliang Plaza, a sports museum, indoor cricket centre, new function rooms and professional standard unisex changerooms complete the package.

The Victorian Government has invested $142 million to deliver the fifth stage, which will benefit hundreds of thousands of sports fans and precinct users each year, as well as economic benefit to the state.

For building cadets Ella McCarthy and Nyah Burrell, employed by the project’s builder, BESIX Watpac, the opportunity to work on such a landmark project cements their belief they’ve landed in the right industry.

The pair are among 73 cadets and apprentices who contributed up to 37,000 hours of work onsite.

Growing up as a Geelong supporter on a horse farm near Wangaratta, Ella never imagined her career could one day take her to Kardinia Park.

After completing Year 12, Ella initially studied forensic science. Helping her parents build their family home in Geelong developed her passion for construction.

‘I never dreamed of getting into a building cadet role with a company such as BESIX Watpac. I feel my work experience has pushed me ahead in university as I understand a lot more and it puts it into perspective when you are on the construction site,’ Ella said.

Meanwhile Geelong local Nyah had completed a trimester of biomedical studies but didn’t enjoy it. Hearing about an opportunity to start a building cadetship through her local cricket club, she decided she had nothing to lose and jumped right in.

‘Since working on the project, I have learned so much and am supported by our project team. This has cemented my belief that I am in the right industry and grateful for such an opportunity,’ she said.

Kardinia Park Stadium Trust (KPST) manages the venue, which is one of Geelong’s most iconic landmarks and recently again won the 2023 Best Regional Stadium for the Austadiums Awards.

KPST Chief Executive Officer Gerard Griffin says after a 23-year journey to completely rebuild the stadium, they’ve left the best to last.

‘Since the Trust was created, we were given a brief to make sure this venue was used for more than just AFL football,’ Gerard explained.

‘We very much pride ourselves on being a multipurpose venue. We’ve now got a facility that’s truly geared to handle anything and everything that comes its way.’

‘We’re proud to sit as part of that family tree of infrastructure that Geelong has, to attract a whole range of people to the region for the first time. It’s a big impact to go to 40,000 – it’s a significant number for a stadium of our type.’

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