Whitten Oval, the spiritual home of the Western Bulldogs Football Club for more than 130 years, is set to be transformed into the west’s newest community and sporting precinct, cementing its position as a hub of women’s and men’s football for the next century and beyond.
Stage Two of the redevelopment is the result of a collaboration between the Western Bulldogs and the Victorian Government — which has committed $36.6 million towards this $58 million project. This is in addition to an original $5 million provided for Stage One upgrading of the women’s change facilities and a new electronic scoreboard, as well as $1 million for planning and design.
A new precinct to enhance the visitor experience
The venue currently hosts AFLW, VFL and VFLW matches as well as pre-season AFL matches and has previously hosted Western United A-League games. Catering for the growing needs of players, sports fans and the wider Melbourne west community, this project will enhance spectator amenities and improve the overall experience of people visiting the precinct.
For players it includes upgrades to change rooms and elite training facilities, further supporting the development of professional women’s sport and the Western Bulldogs AFLW and VFLW teams. The field of play will also be upgraded for the first time since the late 1990s. For the crowds, a new EJ Whitten Stand will be built, while improvements will be made to the eastern and southern side terracing. A match day pavilion will be constructed with food and beverage outlets and public toilets.
Giving back to the local community
The foyer will be refurbished, the club museum expanded and a function centre overlooking the ground will be available for community events. The Bulldogs’ Community Foundation programs, like Sons and Daughters of the West, which tackles physical and mental health issues, will have dedicated spaces.
Broadcast-quality lights will allow prime-time AFLW matches to be televised in high definition — continuing to level the playing field for professional women's sport.
The centrepiece of Melbourne’s west
The Victorian Government is working closely with the club to help it deliver and grow its community programs and provide a destination with ongoing benefits for the local community.
“We are very grateful to the (Victorian) Government for believing in the vision we have created for the future of the Whitten Oval precinct,” commented former Western Bulldogs President, Peter Gordon.
“Our ambition is to make the Whitten Oval precinct the heart of the community – an everyday precinct to spectate, celebrate and discover,” he added.
It is expected that works will commence in early 2022.