Premier praises stunning Skilled

Wednesday, August 11
Geelong Advertiser

Premier Steve Bracks tries to out-muscle Cats' Cameron Mooney and Joel

Corey at Skilled Stadium yesterday. PROJECT savings worth $1.7 million will allow a $26 million major upgrade at Geelong's Kardinia Park Skilled Stadium to grow in scope.

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks inspected the site yesterday and tipped the finished product would impress football fans.

``This will be stunning, absolutely,'' Mr Bracks said as he surveyed the ground and work site.

``It's on time and ahead of budget and the savings will be going into better facilities.

``People will be quite stunned when they see this emerge.''

He said project savings already accrued would enable the upgrade to include a new gymnasium, administration rooms, showers and toilets in the Ross Drew stand and new western gate amenities including toilets, office space for Geelong Football Club's membership team and a merchandise shop.

Improvements would allow the Geelong Football Club to remain competitive and would boost its money-raising capacity.

Mr Bracks toured the ground and construction site with a group including Geelong Football Club president Frank Costa, Member for Geelong Ian Trezise, Geelong Mayor Ed Coppe and Kane Constructions site manager Richard Sutterby.

Steel framework is starting to reveal the dimensions of a new three-tier eastern stand.

Skilled Stadium's capacity will increase by 1800 to 27,000 once the stand is complete in time for the 2005 season.

Mr Costa declared the upgrade would have many benefits for the Geelong community.

It would keep AFL football in the city, provide Geelong with its biggest conference centre and provide hubs for at least 20 sporting groups.

``It will be the best little boutique stadium in regional Australia and that's a big, big plus,'' Mr Costa said.

The Victorian Government is contributing $13.5 million to the project, the City of Greater Geelong $6 million, Geelong Football Club $4.5 million and AFL $2 million.

Mr Bracks said sound management and keen suppliers had enabled the work to stay to budget.