Waverley Park
Waverley Park (originally VFL Park) is an Australian rules football stadium in Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia. For most of its history, its purpose was as a neutral venue and used by all Victorian based Victorian Football League/Australian Football League clubs. However, during the 1990s it became the home ground of both the Hawthorn and St Kilda football clubs. It was later replaced by Docklands Stadium. It is currently used as a training venue by Hawthorn, while St Kilda has moved to Moorabin Oval. The main grandstand and oval are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The seating capacity is 2,000, down from a peak of 78,000.

Waverley Park (then VFL Park) was first conceived in 1959 when delegates from the 12 VFL clubs requested the league to find land that was suitable for the building of a new stadium. In September 1962, the VFL had secured a 212 acre (860,000 m²) block of grazing and market garden land at Mulgrave. This area was chosen because it was believed that with the effects of urban sprawl, and the proposed building of the South-Eastern (later called Monash) freeway, the area would become the demographic centre of Melbourne. The VFL reportedly lobbied the state government to construct a train connection to the stadium but, but this never occurred so the stadium was abandoned. The original plans were for a stadium catering for up to 157,000 patrons, which would have made it one of the biggest stadiums in the world. To accommodate the large number of patrons the members' stand was to be extended around the whole ground. However, in 1982/1983, when the extensions were due to commence, the Government of Victoria refused to approve the plans for the upgrade because the upgrade would have threatened the Melbourne Cricket Ground's right to host the AFL Grand Final. Hence, no further development ever occurred and the capacity was set at just over 78,000 patrons. The playing surface of 200 metres long and 160 metres wide would be the biggest in the league. This caused some controversy and the boundary lines were repainted and goals were relocated to make the playing area more similar to other AFL grounds.

Under the direction of architect Reginald E. Padey, work was started at the site on 5 January 1966 when the VFL President Sir Kenneth Luke turned the first sod. On construction of the stadium, a total of 378,000 cubic yards (289,000 m³) of topsoil was excavated and the surface of the oval was lowered to a depth of 10 metres from the surrounding area. The soil was used to form the banks for some sections of the stadium. The foundations for the K.G. Luke stand were laid in 1969 and more than 20 kilometers of solid concrete terracing was laid around the ground. Finally, on 18 April 1970, Fitzroy and Geelong played the first game at Waverley Park, to a crowd of 25,887. However, the stadium was far from completed. In fact the only section of the actual grandstand that was built was the first level of the K.G. Luke Stand. The rest of the stadium had only been completed on the ground level. The Public Reserve Stands encircling the rest of the stadium were finished at a cost of $4.5 million in 1974 and the car parking was extended to fit a total of 25,000 cars. Lighting was added in May 1977, at a cost of $1.2 million, for the first of the 1977 night series televised matches. In 1982 a monochrome video matrix scoreboard was in operation at Waverley Park for the first time in VFL history, displaying instant replay highlights. In 1984 the arena was returfed and the drainage system upgraded. Two years later a mosaic mural perpetuating many great names of VFL football was installed on the grandstand facade above the members' entrance. During the 1988 season automatic turnstiles were introduced at the members' entrance.

Memorable events
The first ever final played at the ground was also the first ever elimination final played in AFL history, played between St Kilda and Essendon in 1972. In 1989 a match was played for premiership points on a Sunday at VFL Park for the first time. During the 1973 season, 42,610 attended the first interstate match at the ground (between Victoria and Western Australia) and a record 60,072 attended the second semi-final between Carlton and Collingwood. Essendon and Carlton contested a once-off match on Anzac Day in 1975 (which Essendon won) in front of a crowd of 77,770. The record attendance was 92,935 for Collingwood versus Hawthorn in 1981. In 1977 Fitzroy played North Melbourne in the first night match at the stadium in the Amco-Herald Cup (now the NAB Cup). The game started 55 minutes late after the State Electricity Commission's supply to the $1 million lighting system failed just ten minutes before the game was due to begin. A fuse was thought to have blown in in the feeder pole to the ground. All power to the ground was turned off for 18 minutes while it was repaired. In 1987 Fitzroy played North Melbourne in the first night match at the stadium for premiership points in the major competition. A total of 183,383 people watched the three finals games at VFL Park and the preliminary final attendance of 71,298 was the largest since 1984. The game was between Melbourne and Hawthorn and the game was described as the most epic played at VFL Park, with Hawthorn winning from a goal kicked after the siren, by Gary Buckenara. The ground hosted its first and only AFL Grand Final in 1991, which was contested by Hawthorn and the West Coast Eagles because the Melbourne Cricket Ground at the time was undergoing construction of the Great Southern Stand. Hawthorn defeated West Coast by 53 points in front of a crowd of 75,230. In 1996 an unexpected pitch invasion occurred when the lights went out at the stadium in a night game between Essendon and St Kilda, during the third quarter . After declaring the match finished for the evening the AFL commission held an emergency meeting to decide what should happen as there was no provision in the official rules for an event like this. They decided to continue the match three days later. Essendon kept their winning position comfortably, starting with a 20 point lead and winning with a 22 point margin. Controversially, the Bombers made five changes to their line-up between the two parts of the match. One of Essendon players, James Hird, managed to pick up match votes in some of the media awards. Prior to the match, St Kilda coach Stan Alves complained about the situation and stated that his team is "not going to go kamikaze" and risk an injury when they don't have much chance of winning. The AFL subsequently decided on a set of rules to be applied for incidents of this kind, those being that if a game is not started, the league in control of the match shall determine the result. Games that start but are interrupted prior to half time are deemed to be drawn if the game can not recommence within 30 minutes, while if the game is interrupted after half time, the scores at the time are deemed to be final.

Football records
In its history, 732 AFL/VFL matches have been played at Waverley Park, 70 of which were finals and one grand final.
  • Highest score: Fitzroy: 36.22 (238) v Melbourne: 6.12 (48) in round 17, 1979
  • Largest crowd: 92,935, Queen's Birthday 1981, Hawthorn v Collingwood
  • Most goals scored in one game: Jason Dunstall, 17 goals, Round 7, 1992

Special events
Waverley Park hosted many special events other than Australian rules football. These included:
  • Rock concerts: Rod Stewart (1979), KISS (1980), David Bowie (1983) & U2 (1998). Simon and Garfunkel also played a concert in the early 1980s. A December 6, 1993 concert for Michael Jackson's Dangerous Tour was cancelled after the tour was cut short.
  • Cricket: World Series Cricket games between 1977 and 1979.
  • International Rules Football: Matches between Australia and Ireland.
  • Baseball: Home of the Waverley Reds from 1989 until 1994.

The decision to close the venue was made by the AFL for some vague reasons. While it was serviced by a major freeway, Waverley Park was only 20 minutes from the Melbourne CBD, but the John Cain ALP government refused to allow sufficient public transport. Waverley had sufficient parking and provided its own water storage, together with the playing surface being the best in all of Australia. Together with plans to ensure adequate seating of at least 150,000 spectators, something that the MCG and the replacement stadium at Docklands continually fail with. As it aged, the issue of spectators having access was pushed aside, instead flimsy short sighted limitations were highlighted. These limitations included its lack of undercover seating - which was due to only being partially completed plans were for coverage to most of the stadium, poor spectator and corporate facilities, and a black and white video screen. The ground itself was very large and spectators felt distant from the game. Moreover, Waverley was only partially completed located in a rain belt, bringing cold and often wet weather, thus earning the stadium the unflattering nickname "Arctic park". The grounds car park was too small so it seemed to take hours to escape from following an event. The stadium's demise was made official on October 31, 1996 after the AFL confirmed that a new stadium would be built as a replacement for Waverley Park. The last official AFL game was played in 1999 between Hawthorn and Sydney in front of a sell-out crowd of 72,130. In 2000, AFL pre-season cup matches were played at the venue, and Victorian Football League games also took place there, including finals and the grand final. Melbourne's Eastern Football League also played division 1 and division 2 grand finals at the venue at the conclusion of the 2000 season. The 2000 VFL Grand Final was the last official game of football played at the venue. After the 2000 VFL Grand Final, Waverley Park did not appear to be maintained and vandals smashed windows and trashed the super boxes. The playing surface became covered in weeds. Victorian MP Mary Delahunty called on the AFL to mow the dilapidated stadium, because it was still under their control. On December 10, 2001 the AFL confirmed that the land was sold to housing developer Mirvac to assist the Australian Football League to finance the construction of the now complete Docklands Stadium. The ground was demolished starting on December 11, 2002. While often seen as something of a failure, Waverley Park actually served an important purpose for the VFL/AFL, providing a critical bargaining chip in negotiations with the Melbourne Cricket Club over MCG access. The existence of Waverley as a viable alternative venue for the grand final and other events presumably led to a considerably more favourable bargaining position for the AFL.

Current status
Following its cessation as a venue for league football, the stadium fell into a state of disrepair. Anticipating complete demolition, the National Trust of Victoria moved quickly to nominate the members' stand for heritage listing on the basis that the stadium was the first major stadium purpose built for Australian rules football, that it hosted the 1991 AFL Grand Final and that the members' (or K.G. Luke) stand features a mural of football legends by artist Harold Freedman. Successful lobbying saw Heritage Victoria grant legislative protection to the site and, beginning in December 2002, the entire stadium was demolished except for the members' stand and the members' stand mural. The surrounding parking lot has been replaced by suburban housing, including 1400 new dwellings for 3500 people. The members' stand is visible from the nearby Monash Freeway. The oval itself and the remaining section of the members stand have been redeveloped into a state-of-the-art training and administrative facility for the Hawthorn Football Club and the community. The facility incorporates an MCG-dimension oval (the size of the playing arena having been reduced from its original size), includes a 25 metre heated indoor swimming pool, four refrigerated ice tanks, a gymnasium with a 60 metre running track and a warm-up area with projection and screen facilities to simulate match-day conditions. The grandstand has seating for around 2000 patrons with seating in the top level of the grandstand having been retained.