The West Coast Eagles have unveiled plans to move in to a new $50 million training facility in Victoria Park in time for the 2017 AFL season.
Eagles chairman Alan Cransberg and CEO Trevor Nisbett today signed a Heads of Agreement with the Town of Vic Park to redevelop Lathlain Park, 7km east from Perth's CBD and the current home of WAFL Club, the Perth Demons.
An important element of the plan will be the creation of two ovals, one replicating the dimensions of the MCG and the other configured to the size of the new Perth Stadium at Burswood.
Shared community facilities that will open to the public also form a part of the initial plans and will take the project out to $60million.
Funding will be sought from the state and federal governments and perhaps also private investors.
The new facility will be only 4km from the new AFL stadium that is currently being built at Burswood and should be ready for the start of the 2018 season.
Nisbett said that around 20 venues were looked at during the process to find the best location to replace those at Subiaco Oval that he believes to be in the bottom four or five in the AFL.
''Well the facilities we built here 13 years ago are now probably in the bottom four or five in the competition,'' he said.
''An indoor training centre is paramount these days. We'll be looking at that. We'll look at pool facilities, sports science facilities -that are legitimate - we'll be looking at a medical centre that's second to none and we'll be looking at our community facilities to upgrade.
''Just bringing the David Wirrpanda Foundation back in house and our other community arm, it'll be really special for us to have it all under one roof.
''We hope to have a café. We hope to have a museum. We hope to have a supporters club where we can put all of our memorabilia up, which we haven't been able to do, so our supporters can actually come and see what they've been able to achieve in their lifetimes and we've got a number of emails year that say 'it's about time we have those facilities.''
Perth Football Club stands to benefit greatly from the announcement, with its facilities also expected to receive an upgrade, However any association with the Demons is not expected to impact the Eagles relationship with rival WAFL club East Perth, who West Coast begins a player alignment with next season.
Cransberg joked that the announcement, which came a day after he fronted media with news that coach John Worsfold had resigned, was an ongoing plan to keep the Fremantle Football Club out of the spotlight as they head into their finals campaign.
But he said that the Lathlain venue was chosen as the best option to base the club for the long term.
''As you know we have been at Subiaco oval for the last 27 years and as the state government is moving the centre of football out to Burwsood, we have also made the decision that for our long term future we need to develop a new training base as well,'' he said.
''While this is extremely important for the Eagles - we are looking at creating a training base for the next 99 years – it's very important to recognize that this is a huge opportunity to help develop that part of Vic Park and create something that the community will value.
''We will never take any opportunity where we will have a training base just for the Eagles. We want to make it an equal opportunity both for the town of Vic Park and local community, but also for the Perth Football Club who currently has the Lathlain Park precinct and we're looking to share that precinct and create something of value obviously for the Eagles in terms of a world class training facility and also for the local community and the Perth Football Club.''
Vic Park mayor Trevor Vaughan said the decision to welcome the Eagles was a unanimous one made by counselors a meeting last night.
''We really welcome the West Coast Eagles to the Town of Vic Park – its absolute fantastic for us,'' he said.
''The other thing is it's a great achievement for our town to have a group like the Eagles in our town.
It's going to help our community. They are spending money to improve around Lathlain Park which we think is fantastic.
''Also, we are really pleased to have them supporting the Perth Football Club who has always been at the heart of our town.
''Our decision was unanimous last night that we would join up with the heads; we have had a fantastic working relationship with the Eagles; we've had lots of discussion that have worked out so well.
''What they say will happen and I am sure they will be putting a lot of work into our community. It will benefit our community; our land sales will go up; we will have people around that will help all our young people, not just in football, but also in the recreation of people in our town.''