Fact sheet: Academy & Community Facility at Footscray Park
What is the Melbourne Victory proposal that has been added to the Footscray Park Masterplan?
Melbourne Victory’s Academy and Community facility project is the development of dedicated sport and recreational facility in the west side of Footscray Park.
Victory’s intent is a 21-year lease and license arrangement that would be subject to a statutory process.
The lease would be with Melbourne Victory’s Academy (MVFCA) which is a not-for-profit organisation with a separate objectives.
The club has secured funding of $10 million from the State Government to develop the facility and ultimately contribute to the overall success of health and wellbeing initiatives in Maribyrnong.
What exactly is being proposed to be built?
The Academy and Community facility includes three flood-lit pitches, one with a natural surface and two with hybrid surfaces, six male and female change rooms, operational spaces including undercover viewing areas for 500 spectators, as well as community and educational areas to run key programs.
How can the council give public land to a private company?
The land is not being given to Melbourne Victory.
If the proposal is approved, Maribyrnong Council and Melbourne Victory’s Academy will enter a lease/licence for the site.
The proposal is being led by Melbourne Victory Football Club’s Academy which is a not-for-profit organisation with a separate objectives. All licences and leases associated with the proposal will sit with the academy.
Provisions of the lease/licence will include requirements to ensure the land is still accessible to the public/community along with infrastructure costs, ongoing maintenance of the land and upkeep of the facility covered by the licensee over the term of the license.
Is Melbourne Victory trying to lease the entire park?
No, Melbourne Victory is only leasing the pavilion with a licence arrangement for the three playing fields. Footscray Park will continue to be managed as is by Council.
How much of Footscray Park will be used for the MVFC Academy and Community proposal?
The park is approximately 56,000m2 in size, of which approx. 52,000m2 will continue to be accessible to the community.
The pavilion site of the facility represents the approx. 4,000m2 – the space will be available for hire and use by community groups.
The broader Footscray Park to the east of the pond including the new playground area, does not form part of the proposal.
Will there be community access to Footscray Park as part of the proposal?
Yes – absolutely, this was an important consideration.
The western section of Footscray Park where the academy is built will be accessible to the community at times when not being used by Melbourne Victory’s academy and community programs.
Passive and co-ordinated community/public access, including walking and dog access, will be maintained within the park.
If on average the park is used from 6.00am to 8.00pm seven days a week, it would total 98 hours per week. Academy and community programs and events are estimated to take up approx. 38 hours per week. The park will remain open and freely accessible to the community for the other 60 hours per week.
Will this proposal reduce already green space?
Approx. 7% of the total space in question will not be ‘green space’, and this area, is the pavilion that will still be accessible to the public.
The overall proposal however will improve the current green space available in the park to create more opportunities for utilisation by the community.
How will this arrangement efficiently work? Do you have an example?
The type of arrangement for use of public space is not uncommon and has been in operation to good effect in Gosch’s Paddock which is run by Melbourne & Olympic Park Trust.
This park is currently used by four different professional sporting clubs but is still widely accessible to the public/community when not being used in a formal sense.
The intention is that this proposal will operate under similar conditions and when not being used by MVFCA or other users, it will be available for community/public use.
Will I be able to walk my dog in Footscray Park?
Yes - this was an important consideration as we know it’s important to locals.
When the area is not being used, it will remain accessible for dog walking as per current arrangements.
Additionally, there is approx. 11,600m2 to the north of the proposed project site that can be retained as a permanent off leash dog area. Footscray Park East and the highly accessible paths along the riverfront will also remain available for dog walking ensuring there is plenty of space.
What will happen to community events/festivals in Footscray Park?
Footscray Park will continue to be a site for the Council’s festival/celebration ensuring New Year’s Eve celebrations and other community festivals continue to operate from the park.
Melbourne Victory and Council are currently finalising details regarding how these community events will be managed and operated but it’s important to note they will remain unchanged.
What impact will the proposal have on the Maribyrnong River?
Once the Masterplan is approved, work will commence on the specifics of the design process.
The proposal has no direct impacts on the Maribyrnong River, given the site is subject to a flood overlay however further discussions will be undertaken with Melbourne Water.
NB: Melbourne Water has already been consulted about the project and we received in principle support, subject to approval of the design.
Will the floodplain be affected?
Melbourne Water has already been consulted about the project and we received in principle support, subject to approval of the design.
Melbourne Water will provide guidance on the necessary works to ensure the project meets all flooding and water management requirements.
What are the community benefits of the proposal?
Melbourne Victory’s Academy and Community facility has a wide range of community benefits attached to it including:
Improved opportunities for female participation in football with dedicated facilities and programs targeted to attract more than 40% female representation.
The facility is crucial for the strategic partnership between Victoria University and Melbourne Victory. By providing students with opportunities to interact and participate in programs in a specialized sporting environment as well as driving more local and international students to be involved in communityprograms.
Blue Light Victoria to form an integral part of the project, with the further development of programs for disengaged youth and an increased Police focus in the community/municipality.
The project will allow Melbourne Victory to broaden community programs to additional local clubs and schools, many of whom will benefit from access to the facility given current quality of their own clubrooms/pitches.
The project is expected to attract up to 300,000 users and visitors to Footscray Park for MVFC activities, providing significant economic investment in the municipality;
Improved health and wellbeing, through participation in sport and having more facilities available, which is consistent with Council’s Active Maribyrnong policy.
Improved amenities and infrastructure in the park that is accessible for a “broader representation” of the community.
Will the Footscray Botanical Gardens be impacted by proposal?
No. The scope of the proposal is contained to the underutilised western section of Footscray Park.
The Footscray Botanical Gardens will not be impacted however appropriate consultation with the council to ensure all requirements are met.
Are synthetic pitches being used?
No. There will be three pitches, one being 100% turf and the other two being a hybrid surface which is 95% natural grass and 5% synthetic fibres.
The hybrid pitch is essentially a turf pitch with minor synthetic fibres incorporated to enable the surface to better cater for and withstand the forecasted usage demands.
For context, hybrid pitches have no greater impact on the noise level or sun glare than a traditional 100% grass pitch.
Reports of 100% synthetic pitches are incorrect.
Will there be fencing around the pitches?
Yes. There will be some fencing however measures are being undertaken to minimise the impact on the community.
In order to comply with minimum venue standards for hosting matches, the main pitch needs to have a perimeter fence, approx. 1.8m high erected when matches are played. When matches are not being played, it will be removed.
There will also be a 1.1m boundary fence around the field of play of the main pitch to provide a safe environment for spectators and competitors. Within this will be several gates that can be opened so the turf is easily accessible when not being used for matches. This is consistent with many publicly accessible football and cricket pitches nationwide.
The additional two pitches will not have fencing.
In response to feedback to date, we are exploring options to meet both Council and communities’ requirements including removable perimeter fencing to cater for when the venue is not hosting matches.
Will Melbourne Victory pay rent to use the facility?
A formal lease & licence will need to be finalised with Council when/if the masterplan update with the Academy and Community facility proposal is approved.
The intent is Victory would pay for the maintenance costs of the facility and turf to Council in lieu of rent.
This approach would free up Council’s resources for other projects and programs within the municipality as both infrastructure and up-keep costs are covered.
Will there be light towers at the Academy and how will they impact on the Park & Gardens?
Yes, there will be light towers installed to enable the Academy and Community facility to operate in the twilight and evening hours however the exact number is yet to be determined.
During the design process detailed light modelling will be undertaken to manage any impact on the park. Every effort will be undertaken to reduce the quantity of towers during the design process to ensure light spill is minimised and within Australian Standards.
It is anticipated any outdoor activities will be completed between 8:30pm and 9:30pm with lights typically turned off within 30mins of sessions concluding.
It should be noted the installation of light towers will increase the available activity time within Footscray Park, especially during the winter months outside of daylight savings.
Will there be a cost for players to participate in programs at the Academy?
No – there are no registration fees for participants in Melbourne Victory’s academy teams.
Will the heritage status of the park be affected with the proposed building and changes?
Only half of the proposed site within the Footscray Park is included on the Victorian Heritage Register.
The project understands the heritage importance of Footscray Park and has taken appropriate steps with the Victorian Heritage Council during the design process to ensure heritage requirements are correctly managed.
We believe the Heritage Council will be best placed to make comment if the proposal meets their strict requirements and/or there are issues regarding preservation.
Will there be an impact on wildlife or natural amenities in Footscray Park?
The proposal will not interfere with the ponds, reeds or botanical gardens at the park in the long term.
There may be minor disruptions during construction, however resident and migrating wildlife will not be affected by the proposal beyond that.
Why was the site of Footscray Park selected, and not somewhere else?
Other sites were considered but did not prove to be feasible. There was a detailed feasibility study undertaken in 2016 to 2017.
Another key factor to Footscray Park being the chosen site was its proximity and relationship with Victoria University. This allows a strategic integrated relationship to further come to life with access to their sports science facilities, gym and pool, car parking capabilities together with public transport and arterial access.
Historically the site has been used as playing fields and had fallen into disrepair. This proposal allows the space to be upgraded to support both football development and local community recreation needs.
What sort of due diligence was done on the site?
The Footscray Park site was selected for a range of factors including proximity to the CBD, size of the land and partnership opportunities with Council.
The feasibility study investigated a range of other options including concept design, costings, future funding, operational arrangements and community benefits but concluded that the Footscray Park site best met all the requirements for it to be the site for the project.
Are there no other spaces the proposal could take place?
While there are several other sports fields within proximity to Footscray Park, these are currently being used by other community organisations or the proposed usage hours resulted in it not being compatible.
With the highest number of participants in the country across all codes, there is no denying that soccer is growing significantly in Australia. Already, there are several local clubs within the municipality finding it difficult to access pitches for training and competition purposes to cater for their growth in participation numbers.
Will local sports teams and clubs get access to the new facility?
Yes - a key driver of the proposal is deepening relationships with and opportunities for local clubs and schools in the area, who currently don’t have football facilities to use the site for training and games.
Melbourne Victory is renowned for delivering a diverse range of meaningful inclusion and community programs to schools across Victoria and want to expand our offering in the west.
We offer programs for schools, clubs, charities and culturally diverse communities, and will continue to encourage social cohesion and deliver football initiatives that engage young people in your local community.