New Hawthorn chief executive Ash Klein declared his club would be walking into a facility that is a “game changer” after the official turning of the first sod for the $100m complex on Friday, with hopes the AFLW team could be playing games there by 2025.
After years of planning, development on the Kennedy Community Centre is under way, with stage 1 of the transformational project set to deliver a community pavilion and AFLW oval featuring full broadcast capabilities and grandstand seating.
At the same time the Harris Elite Training and Administration Facility, home to the club’s staff and players, will also take also shape, including an indoor training field, high-performance gym and aquatic facilities and an MCG-sized oval.
The project is being funded by the club, local council, $30m from the federal government and a further $15m injection from the Victorian government.
Hawthorn will move from its Waverley base to the venue in Dingley, with president Andy Gowers confident the women’s team would be in first.
“We’re targeting the second half of 2025 to move here,” Gowers said on Friday.
“2026 for the men and maybe even the 2025 AFLW season, hopefully.
“It’s a potential home ground for us in the AFLW competition which would be pretty amazing to host games here on a regular basis and give our women an opportunity to train and play here.
“We will have a grandstand but the oval itself will be able to fit thousands of people.”
Klein declared his club would be the “envy of the competition” when the facility was fully up and running.
“The Kennedy Community Centre will be a game changer,” Klein said.
“With equal facilities for both men’s and women’s programs, every single Hawthorn player will be supported to reach their potential in a high-performance environment that is the envy of the competition.”
Major construction is under way, with the first stage due for completion in the second half of next year.
Gowers also said the new facility would “safeguard our football club’s future”.
“We’re incredibly proud and grateful to be delivering what is one of the largest investments by an AFL club,” he said.
Albanese, who revealed he attended the 1991 grand final, the only one played at Waverley Park when the Hawks beat West Coast, said the whole community would benefit from the new facility, improving both physical and mental health.
“It’s not just a focal point for young girls and boys to aspire to, not just something for the elite athletes of the AFL and AFLW to benefit from but also the facilities will be here for local community-based sport as well,” Albanese said.
Read related topics:Anthony Albanese