Southern Expansion plan to build a $50 million high-performance training and sports science centre at Lucas Heights which draws inspiration from La Liga giants Real Madrid’s training facility.
Southern, representing the St George district, Sutherland Shire and Football South Coast, put forward their final submission to Football Federation Australia to be part of the A-League’s expansion for the 2019-20 season on Friday, with seven other bids also in the running.
Part of that submission includes plans, unveiled on Saturday, for a state of the art training centre to be located on several hectares of lands adjacent to ANSTO’s main science and technology campus.
Global architecture firm Populous have been appointed to design the centre. The company have designed more than 2,500 projects around the world worth $40 billion over the last 35 years. These include Ethihad Stadium in Melbourne, CBUS Super Stadium on the Gold Coast and the under-construction Western Sydney Stadium at Parramatta.
The project is expected to take two years to build, with Southern planning to use updated facilities at Kareela until construction is complete.
The plans feature 10 grass and synthetic playing fields and futsal courts, hotel accommodation for visiting players and coaches, sports science and medical research facilities, office space, pools, gyms and hydrotherapy recovery areas, a media broadcast hub, parking and pedestrian access and a 500-seat mini stadium.
Southern’s head of football Craig Foster said the centre was unique to the club and would become a major community asset – and had taken inspiration from arguably the greatest club in world football.
“Whilst it utilises a visual, spinal design model similar to Real Madrid, the real difference is that it’s open and accessible to the community, with digital connectivity allowing players, coaches, staff, fans and visitors all to interact on site,” he said.
“It’s fundamentally important that everyone has access to our professional male and female players and that’s an underlying principle for Southern, as we work in and with our community.
“For the first time in any sporting code in Australia we’re going to provide equal quality and quantity of facilities and opportunities for our male and female players.
“For too long Australia’s female footballers, even our world-beating Matildas, have missed out. And we are determined to change that.”
Southern chairman Morris Iemma said the centre was the centrepiece of Southern’s final bid submission.
“A high-performance training centre is a crucial element of any modern, professional sporting club, which is why we are delighted to be working in collaboration with ANSTO, to develop what will undoubtedly be the finest training facility anywhere in Australia and South-East Asia,” he said.
“We’re building an innovative, professional football club for the future which will always be focused on our communities, where we train and play. Our plans for the centre have significantly strengthened our submission and again demonstrates that no other bid is better positioned or better prepared to take-up A- League and W-League licenses than Southern Expansion.”
A final decision on expansion will be made before the end of October.
Brisbane City opted not to enter a final submission, reducing the number of bids to eight.
Southern are up against a merged South West Sydney-Macarthur bid as well as Wollongong Wolves, Melbourne trio Team 11, South Melbourne and Western Melbourne Group, Ipswich Pride and Canberra & Capital Region.