Hawthorn has revealed well-advanced plans to move its headquarters from Waverley Park to a massive new facility at Dingley, where it has signed a contract of purchase.
After investigating 15 to 20 sites, the Hawks have chosen – and on Monday paid a deposit for – a 28 hectare site in Dingley worth between $7 and $8 million, where the club intends to a build a lavish new headquarters for players, administration and supporters modelled on English Premier League clubs Arsenal and Tottenham.
If all goes according to plan, the Hawks will be established at the new facility within five or six years, though they say it could take five to 10 years.
The new headquarters will cost several times the $7 million-plus the club is paying for the land, with the Hawks hoping to receive a significant return from the sale or lease of their Waverley base.
Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold said the cost of the new facility was not set yet. The funding strategy for the new facility “will be done over the next 18 months to two years”.
The cost of the Dingley base is likely to comfortably exceed the nearly $30 million Essendon has outlayed for its Tullamarine base.
The Hawks will rely heavily on their own Hawthorn Foundation, and wealthy rank and file supporters. If they follow the template of other clubs, they will also seek funds from the AFL and governments, and perhaps share the enormous facility with community organisations.
Newbold said there were two reasons for the move. “We want an elite training facility and administration facility, to align with our values of being a destination club. That’s one bucket. The next is if you’ve got 80,000 members, how do you engage with them? … We think this facility can tick that box.”
The Hawks have spent the past three years investigating a move from Waverley to an expanded HQ, where they can accomodate the club’s growth in staff, player needs and membership and “future proof” themselves “for 100 years.”
They say they have run out of room at Waverley, which is surrounded by housing, with limited parking and capacity to expand. The club believes Waverley Park – state of the art several years ago – would rank “bottom four” in the AFL as a facility today.
The Dingley site – which club chief executive Stuart Fox said could “easily” accomodate five MCG-sized footy ovals – will have space to expand their HQ, giving them another oval or two for training, plus car parking, larger indoor facilities and the potential for community involvement.
The club, assisted by consultant Chris Dare, has negotiated directly with the owner of the site – where the Din San nursery is based – and has an 18-month due diligence period, in which to confirm the sale and the subsequent move. But the Hawks, having investigated the site thoroughly, are confident that the move will go ahead.
This will mean letting go of the Ricoh Centre at Waverley Park, where the Hawks moved late in 2004 and own 85 per cent of the building (freehold), in a complicated deal involving the developer Mirvac and the state government.
“We certainly intend, provided our due diligence comes up clean, to complete the contract of sale,” said Newbold. “We’ve had a positive indication so far that planning is positive.”