23 September 2019

Is it time for a major upgrade at Manuka Oval?

| Lachlan Roberts
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GWS Giants

When GWS are in Canberra, the Manuka precinct turns orange as supporters mill in anticipation. File Photo

A packed Manuka Oval has become the norm when the GWS Giants descend on the nation’s capital.

During the Giants’ three AFL clashes at Manuka Oval during the 2018 season, crowds of 13,249 watched their clash against the Adelaide Crows on a winter Saturday night, while 11,356 saw Giants crush the Fremantle Dockers, and 10,454 saw an entertaining clash between the home side and the Western Bulldogs.

With a seating capacity of 13,550, the venue remains the premier site for cricket and AFL events in Canberra.

The Giants are drawing towards the end of a 10-year, $23 million deal with the ACT Government. Discussions about extending the deal beyond 2021 have taken place and Giants chief Dave Matthews expects the deal to be renewed. Given the excellent crowds and growing number of kids playing AFL in Canberra, a new deal seems likely.

Speaking at the Giants’ grand final lunch in Canberra on Tuesday (25 September), Matthews said the AFL fans that flock to their games deserved better facilities. Long lines at the female toilets, at the gates and food trucks outside the stands are some of the issues that need to be addressed with the GWS Giants keen to see a major upgrade to the oval.

Two years ago, the Giants tabled a controversial bid to upgrade the Manuka Oval facilities and the surrounding precinct, which would have included an investment of around $80 million, but the Government shied away from the proposal after community concerns about overdevelopment.

Former ACT AFL General Manager Steve Dobbie echoed Matthew’s calls when he spoke on 2CC on Wednesday morning (26 September), calling for something to help improve the game day experience for fans.

“It is an interesting one with Manuka because when you get inside the ground and start watching the game it is a brilliant experience because you are so close to the game but then you go behind the grandstands to go to the loo or to grab a hotdog and things become very different,” Dobbie said.

“I think it is time to put all options on the table and weigh up the costs and see what can be done.”

With an international summer of cricket quickly approaching and Manuka Oval set to host three international matches scheduled across all three formats of the game, fans better be ready for long queues.

With more and more sport coming to Manuka Oval, what upgrades do you want to see to the facilities? Let us know your thoughts below.

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Redevelop Phillip Oval and make it self-financing by selling the entirety of Manuka Oval and its surrounds for development as apartments. The developers will love it. The Government will love it. The only people who won’t love it are the NIMBYs.

Damn. I’m not sure if I’m being serious or sarcastic.

Queanbeyanite3:38 pm 29 Sep 18

No, pay off the $4 billion tram first, flog the site off for a big apartment complex, could be paid off early in 2060. You could then build a brand new stadium near the Mint beside one of the tram stops.

$4b now? That’s about 6 times the actual build figure.

Queanbeyanite7:36 pm 04 Oct 18

I read the existing one is now $1.6 Billion, originally $350 million, reports I’ve read have the Woden bit starting at $2 billion. All of which the local council should have tested with a dozen luxury bendy busses for $20 million. Keep in mind this is 2 sixths of the complete network. I’ve even heard of a line back to Queanbeyan.

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