The Australian Football League has bought the Docklands Stadium freehold asset that cost $460m to build in 2000 from the Andrews ALP Victorian government for $200m – allegedly to assist “tenant clubs struggling under onerous deals to play at the roofed venue.”
In nine years time they were set to get it for just $30
“I believe this is a great deal for the AFL and our clubs,” AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan told The Age.
His glee is well founded: the transfer of this valuable property to a private concern at a deep price discount is theft. It is a very bad transaction for all Victorians – whether they support AFL or not. McLachlan just earned his annual salary of $1.7m many times over.
A football stadium holding 53,000 people occupies a large area of land. It was put into the stalled Docklands precinct – not to make the new mixed-use area more liveable or attractive – but simply because of its size.
Every Saturday in season, Docklands residents are trapped in or out of their homes by hordes of fans descending on the stadium to sit and cheer. This is a very unhappy marriage.
To somehow describe the AFL and its teams as financially struggling is utter drivel: In 2015, the AFL earned $506 million – double the cricket and triple NRL’s takings. If it is not today a sustainable, self-funding venture, when would it ever be?
The Victorian government’s task is to provide the hospitals, schools, police, parks, transport, water, sewerage and roads we pay taxes for and sorely need. Enriching the AFL is an out-and-out loss that will simply boil off in player and administrator salary inflation.
I condemn the Andrews government for failing to protect taxpayers and its treasure from the AFL who just helped themselves to Consolidated Revenue. Next time you grind your teeth over traffic congestion or high taxes, blame the game.