Kardinia Park

Kardinia Park, (currently known as Skilled Stadium due to naming rights) is an Australian rules football stadium located in South Geelong, Victoria. The stadium is the home ground of the Geelong Football Club. It is nicknamed "The Cattery" by the club's supporters. The current capacity is 28,300, making it the smallest regularly used home ground in the Australian Football League.

History

The Geelong Football Club began playing home games at Kardinia Park in 1941 after its previous home ground, Corio Oval, was commandeered by the military during World War II.

Previous names of the stadium as results of sponsorship deals have been Shell Stadium and Baytec Stadium (However it was only called Baytec Stadium for less than two months, and no AFL matches were played there under the name). On 23 May 2002, Kardinia Park hosted a visit from the Dalai Lama who again visited the stadium in June 2007.

Due to poor lighting facilities, night matches are never played at Kardinia Park. This was highlighted when Geelong's round 20, 2011 match against the Gold Coast was brought forward to 1:40 pm, after its previous match against Melbourne almost finished in darkness.

The stadium was for many years the only VFL affiliated ground located outside the Melbourne metropolitan area.

It is also regarded as a graveyard for opposition teams with Geelong, the main tenant, having not lost a match played at the venue between 26 August 2007 and 27 August 2011 non-inclusive. Geelong's Jimmy Bartel credited the home field advantage to the fact that Geelong are one of the few clubs who practice on the same field they play on.

In its current layout Kardinia Park consists of the following seating areas: the Reg Hickey Stand, Doug Wade Stand, Premiership Stand, Brownlow Stand, A.R. Jennings Stand, Ron Hovey Room, Ford Stand and the Garry Ablett Terrace, with the latter containing the main standing room section.

Redevelopments

An A$28 million redevelopment of the ground was announced in 2003, with A$13.5 million in funding from the State Government, A$4.5 million from the Geelong Football Club, and A$2 million from the AFL. The redeveloped ground was opened on 1 May 2005 during the first home game of the 2005 season which includes a new western entry and membership area, as well as a new five level grandstand with a capacity of approximately 6000 spectators on the eastern side of the stadium. A favourite for the honour of the naming of the new stand was Bob Davis, coach of the Cats' premiership side in 1963.

On 15 June 2005, City of Greater Geelong councillors granted the club its wish to change the name of the new eastern stand to the Reg Hickey Stand, while the southern stand became the Doug Wade Stand. The northern terrace became known as the Gary Ablett Terrace while the western gate was re-named the Bob Davis Gate.

In September 2007, Skilled Stadium received a further total of A$26 million towards the rebuilding of the Ross Drew Stand on the south western side of the ground that was completed by April 2010. Funding for the project included A$14 million from the Federal Government and A$6 million from the Victorian Government. The new stand, known as the Premiership Stand, caters for 3,551 supporters, and has facilities for a further 800 corporate guests on match days. The stand opened in round four of the 2010 AFL season, coinciding with the unveiling of the 2009 premiership flag. A$50,000 was also spent on a new 600-seat temporary stand between the Reg Hickey and Doug Wade stands.

On 10 April 2011, the Victorian Government announced it will invest A$25 million into the third stage of a major redevelopment of Geelong’s Skilled Stadium. Under the plans, the Doug Wade stand at the southern end of the stadium will be pulled down at the end of the 2011 AFL season, with a new stand incorporating a new community wellness and education centre expected to be completed before the start of the 2014 season. Once finished it will increase the capacity of the stadium by more than 7000 to 34,500. Geelong CEO Brian Cook said stage three of the stadium's redevelopment would cost $34 million in total, with the club still looking for $3 million from both the AFL and the City of Greater Geelong. Due to Australia's failed 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, guaranteed funding from the Federal Government for the full $130 million redevelopment of the stadium has been rejected and the final stage to redevelop the northern or city end of the stadium remains in limbo.

On 13 May 2011, the Geelong Football Club applied for Federal Government funding for A$9 million to install AFL and international cricket standard lighting at Skilled, and $6 million to deliver a sports museum, permanent broadcast screens, improved food and beverage facilities for spectators, an upgrade to existing education centre plans, and a long room-style members' lounge.

On 22 June 2011, it was announced the stadium will have a new name in 2012. After 10 years as naming rights sponsor of Skilled Stadium, Skilled Group has decided to relinquish these rights as of 31 October 2011.

Hosted events
  • Australian Football League
  • Victorian Football League
  • Geelong Football League finals series
  • Victorian Premier Cricket for the Geelong Cricket Club
  • KFC Twenty20 Big Bash
  • A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup
  • W-League (Australia)
Crowd Records
  • Australian Football- 49,109, Geelong v Carlton, Round 19, 1952
  • Cricket- 12,327, Victoria Bushrangers vs Queensland (KFC Twenty20 Big Bash), 4 January 2009
  • Soccer- 8,500, Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets, 2008

In May 2009 it was revealed that the City of Greater Geelong as stadium owner had approached a number of Melbourne based AFL clubs discussing the financial advantages of playing home games at the ground. The ground could see clubs earning A$30 a patron at Skilled Stadium, compared to A$7 earned at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. The Geelong Football Club had first floated Skilled Stadium as a potential home game venue for Melbourne clubs in 2006.

VFL/AFL Records
  • Highest Team Score:
  • Largest Winning Margin:
  • Lowest Team Score:
  • Most Goals in a Game:
  • Most Disposals in a Game:
  • Most Games Played:
  • Most Goals Kicked:
  • Longest Undefeated Streak:

Source

Dimensions
  • Length – 170m
  • Width – 115m
  • Goals run north to south

Source

The field is the narrowest playing field used for AFL games, however many other venues are much shorter (with the Sydney Cricket Ground the shortest).