The western side of Mars Stadium
|Former names||Northern Oval #1, AUSTAR Arena and Eureka Stadium|
|Location||Midland Highway, Wendouree. Ballarat, Victoria, Australia|
|Owner||City of Ballarat|
|Operator||City of Ballarat|
|Capacity||11,000 (5,127 seated)|
|Field size||159.5m x 128.8m|
|Scoreboard||Video-electronic (50 sqm)|
|Construction cost||$21.976 million (AUD) (Stage 1)|
|Architect||Peddle Thorp (Melbourne)|
|Main contractors||AW Nicholson Constructions and Atelier Projects|
North Ballarat Football Club (VFL),|
North Ballarat Rebels (TAC Cup)
North Ballarat Cricket Club (Ballarat Cricket Association) (1993–)
North Ballarat City Football Club (BFL)
North Ballarat Eagles (VWFL)
North Ballarat Netball Club
Western Bulldogs Football Club (AFL) (2017-)
The first oval was established in 1990 on a site formerly occupied by the Ballarat Showgrounds Harness Racing track (1952–1966) when the North Ballarat Football Club and North Ballarat Cricket Club relocated from their original club facilities that were located on the eastern side of the former harness racing track. The 1990-built oval was over 170 metres long and 140 metres wide and rotated on an East to West axis, and included a new pavilion (The North Ballarat Sports Club) which was built on private land adjacent to the northern flank of the oval.
Since 1990, the main oval has been used for many events whilst primarily being used as an Australian rules football and cricket venue. It annually hosted the Ballarat Gift (Athletics Carnival) and until recently was used by the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society during the annual Ballarat Agricultural Show. The facility today is the home of the North Ballarat Sports Club including the North Ballarat Rebels of the TAC Cup, and the North Ballarat City of the Ballarat Football and Netball League. It is also used as a venue for Central Highlands Football League and Ballarat Football League finals.
Until 2016 spectator conditions and capacity were limited by the lack of elevated vantage points bordering the main playing arena. The entire playing oval was re-constructed in 2015/16 in preparation for the first stage of major development as an AFL venue from 2017. In April 2017 the City of Ballarat commenced proceedings to acquire the North Ballarat Sports Club pavilion and freehold title in order to centralise ownership, management and control of the entire precinct under one management body. In June 2018 an agreement for the acquisition was reached. In June 2017, commercial naming rights for the venue were granted to Mars Confectionery Australia, with the facility recently renamed to Mars Stadium.
Australian Football League club North Melbourne established a partnership with the North Ballarat Football Club in 2006 and played AFL pre-season matches at the ground between 2010 and 2014 with strong and growing support. In June 2015 the North Melbourne Football Club withdrew from the Ballarat region having committed to play a percentage of their AFL 'home and away seasonal games' in Hobart (Tasmania) until 2021. Immediately the Western Bulldogs AFL club announced their support to playing at least two AFL 'home games' in Ballarat (though not affiliated with North Ballarat Football Club as North Melbourne had been) from 2017 with the option to extend the contract from 2022.
On 19 August 2017, the Bulldogs hosted the first AFL match for premiership points at the venue against Port Adelaide in front of 10,087 spectators. Port Adelaide won the match by 17 points. The Western Bulldogs have also expressed intention to play pre-seasonal games and the popular AFL Women's (AFLW) games at the venue from 2018. The Western Bulldogs are scheduled to play two home games at Mars Stadium in May and July 2018.
In June 2015 the Victorian government announced a $38.5 million upgrade to the stadium and the wider Ballarat Major Events Precinct (with approximately half of the funding to be directed to the first stage of redevelopment of the then called Eureka Stadium).
The Ballarat Major Events Precinct Master Plan (Released in June 2015), provided a strategic overview for the long-term three-stage development of the stadium as a boutique general purpose stadium; other neighboring sports fields and pavilions; and the nearby Ballarat Indoor Sports and Events Centre.
Stage-one construction works were completed in July 2017 with future development planned, although future funding for development is yet to be announced. In May 2018 the State Government allocated $500,000 AUD for a feasibility study to determine priorities and scale for future development works. The completed study engaged major stakeholders and recommends significant expansion of the capacity, improvements to lighting, public accessibility, enhanced facilities for female users as well as upgrades to supporting infrastructure. While Architects originally designed the stadium for an eventual capacity for 13,000–15,000 spectators the Western Bulldogs Football Club have recently advocated for eventual expansion to 20,000.
Top 5 Attendance Records
|1||19 August 2017||Western Bulldogs v. Port Adelaide||Australian Rules Football||AFL||10,087|
|2||11 March 2012||North Melbourne Kangaroos v. Western Bulldogs||Australian Rules Football||AFL (pre-season)||8,000|
|3||15 February 2014||North Melbourne Kangaroos v. Carlton Football Club||Australian Rules Football||AFL (pre-season)||7,800|
|4||12 March 2011||North Melbourne Kangaroos v. Western Bulldogs||Australian Rules Football||AFL (pre-season)||7,000|
|5||5 May 2018||Western Bulldogs v. Gold Coast Suns||Australian Rules Football||AFL||6,833|
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