Southern Expansion plans new stadium at Loftus and training facility at The Ridge in A-League franchise bid

Indicative concept plan of Southern Football Stadium at Loftus, subject to stakeholder and community consultations. Picture: supplied
Indicative concept plan of Southern Football Stadium at Loftus, subject to stakeholder and community consultations. Picture: supplied

Southern Expansion is proposing to build a 25,000 to 30,000 seat stadium at Loftus as its home ground as part of its bid to join the A-League.

In addition, the group would build a “state of the art” training facility at The Ridge Sports Complex at Barden Ridge.

Entrance to the TAFE and university site on Rawson Avenue.

Entrance to the TAFE and university site on Rawson Avenue.

The group says it will fund construction costs of $350 million for the two projects, but would need the state government to lease Crown land for the stadium.

The proposed site for the stadium is land between Rawson Avenue and the railway line, which at present is occupied by TAFE and the University of Wollongong. 

Proposed stadium site on land occupied by TAFE and the University of Wollongong, between Rawson Avenue and the railway line. Picture:  Google Maps

Proposed stadium site on land occupied by TAFE and the University of Wollongong, between Rawson Avenue and the railway line. Picture: Google Maps

Under the plans, existing buildings would be demolished to make way for a boutique stadium, with adjoining new buildings, including community facilities.

The site is not large enough to fit a large public car park, but most spectators would be expected to travel by train.

The bid group has briefed Sutherland Shire Council, and a formal proposal will be discussed by the Services Committee on Tuesday and by the full council later in the month.

Indicative concept plan of Southern Football Centre of Excellence, Barden Ridge, subject to stakeholder and community consultation. Picture: supplied

Indicative concept plan of Southern Football Centre of Excellence, Barden Ridge, subject to stakeholder and community consultation. Picture: supplied

A report by council staff recommended “in-principle, non binding support”.

Southern Expansion chief executive Chris Gardiner said they were not seeking council funding.

“All we are asking is for the council, which is supporting our bid, to say in principle they think this is a good proposal,” he said.

“We will then go to TAFE and the state government and show them how we can develop the Loftus site as one of the best sports, civic and educational precincts in the country.

“TAFE sub-leases to the University of Wollongong, with a very small footprint.

University of Wollongong's Loftus campus.

University of Wollongong's Loftus campus.

”We have had an informal discussion with the university and they said they would be very interested to see what we can come up with.”

Mr Gardiner, said, over the last few months, the group had looked at many sites “from Botany Bay to Berkley” [Wollongong]”.

“The requirements are it has be on a main rail line, with a good shopping centre,” he said.

”Like Parramatta, you would be walking past eateries to the stadium.

“Loftus does it.

“It is served by two stations and it’s on the main rail line that connects the communities we represent – St George, Sutherland Shire and the Illawarra.

“It’s 500 metres from the station and adjoins a fantastic town centre.

“We have a basic principle that we are not going to do anything at the expense of existing football fields or sporting groups.

“This proposal does not affect Waratah Park at all.”

Mr Gardiner said the site was definitely large enough.

“One of my happiest days was when an architect showed me how you could fit a 25,000 to 30,000 seat stadium in there,” he said.

Mr Gardiner said parking and traffic arrangements would be the subject of consultation with the council and community once the group received in-principle support.

Mr Gardiner said the stadium was planned for the “medium term”, and could be built within five years.

In the meantime, the new team would play out of local stadia.

Mr Gardiner said locating a new training facility at Barden Ridge was “a no-brainer”.

“The shire is central to our region and there is a great sports precinct at Barden Ridge,which we can enhance with our state of the art training centre,” he said.

The report by council staff recommended the council provide in-principle, non-binding support to Southern Expansion for its proposal for entry into the A-League and W-League subject to:

  •  The stadium and related competition facilities being wholly located on Crown land at Rawson Avenue, Loftus.
  • All training facilities located at The Ridge Sports Complex conditional upon existing sporting and established activity groups not being disadvantaged.
  • No construction, maintenance and/or ongoing operational costs borne by council.
  • The proposal demonstrating it would appropriately address all environmental, social and traffic/traffic/parking impacts.
  • There being community support for the bid.

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