Kardinia Park (stadium)

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For the public park of the same name in Geelong, within which the stadium is located, see Kardinia Park.
Kardinia Park, Geelong
Simonds Stadium, The Cattery
Former names Skilled Stadium
Shell Stadium
Baytec Stadium
Location South Geelong, Victoria
Coordinates 38°9′29″S 144°21′17″E / 38.15806°S 144.35472°E / -38.15806; 144.35472Coordinates: 38°9′29″S 144°21′17″E / 38.15806°S 144.35472°E / -38.15806; 144.35472
Owner City of Greater Geelong
Operator City of Greater Geelong/Geelong Football Club
Capacity 27,000 approx (capacity temporarily reduced due to redevelopment)
Record attendance 49,109 (30 August 1952 Geelong v Carlton)
Field size 170 x 115 m
Surface Grass
Construction cost Redevelopment: A$28 million[citation needed]
Architect Populous (company), Peddle Thorp (Redevelopment)
Geelong Football Club (AFL) (1941–present)
Melbourne Rising (NRC) (2015–present)

Kardinia Park (also currently known as Simonds Stadium due to naming rights) is a sporting and entertainment venue located within Kardinia Park, South Geelong, Victoria. The stadium, which is owned and operated by the City of Greater Geelong, is the home ground of the Geelong Football Club. The capacity of the ground is currently temporarily around 27,000 due to the construction of a new Western grandstand, which will yield a total capacity of 36,000.

Australian rules football[edit]

Early years[edit]

Football has been played on Kardinia Park since the 19th century,[1] and prior to the 1940s, Kardinia Park was the secondary football venue in the city of Geelong; Corio Oval was the primary venue, and the Geelong Football Club played its Victorian Football League games at that venue until 1940. Kardinia Park served as the home ground for the Geelong (A.) Football Club in the Victorian Football Association from 1922[2] until 1925, before that club moved to the Western Oval in Geelong West;[3] local and district football was played regularly on the ground.

The Geelong Football Club began playing its home games at Kardinia Park in 1941 after Corio Oval was commandeered by the military during World War II, and it became its permanent home venue thereafter.

Recent history[edit]

On 23 May 2002, Kardinia Park hosted a visit from the Dalai Lama, who again visited the stadium in June 2007.

Kardinia Park is regarded as a proverbial graveyard for teams playing against Geelong, which has an especially good record at the ground in recent years. Geelong did not lose a single match played at the venue between 26 August 2007 and 27 August 2011. Geelong's Jimmy Bartel credited the home field advantage to the fact that Geelong is one of the few clubs which practices on the same field that it plays on.[4]

On 22 June 2011, it was announced the stadium would have a new name in 2012. After 10 years as naming rights sponsor of Skilled Stadium, Skilled Group decided to relinquish these rights as of 31 October 2011.[5] Previous names of the stadium as results of sponsorship deals have been Skilled Stadium, Shell Stadium and Baytec Stadium; however it was only called Baytec Stadium for less than two months, and only 1 pre-season match was played there under the name. The stadium is nicknamed "The Cattery" by the club's supporters.

Floodlights were installed prior to the 2013 season, and the venue staged its first night match during the season.

In its current layout Kardinia Park consists of the following seating areas: the Reg Hickey Stand, Players Stand, Premiership Stand, Brownlow Stand, A.R. Jennings Stand, Ron Hovey Room, Ford Stand/Fred Flanagan Room and the Gary Ablett Terrace, with the latter containing the main standing room section.

Association football (soccer)[edit]

A-League match between Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners, January 2016

Association football (soccer) team Melbourne Victory FC occasionally plays at Kardinia Park. After a seven year gap between their first match, a 2007 A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup match against Newcastle Jets and their second, a 2014 AFC Champions League qualifying play-off against Thai side Muangthong United, the ground hosted its first ever A-League premiership match in 2015 when Victory played Perth Glory FC in Round 14 of the 2014-15 A-League season with an attendance of 21,289 as the first match of a three year deal to bring one Victory fixture per season to Geelong.[6] The second match drew 14,268 fans to an exciting six goal come-from-behind draw by the Victory against Central Coast Mariners in January 2016, while the third is scheduled for 2 January 2017 with Newcastle Jets as the visiting team.[7]

European Champions League finalists Atlético Madrid will play Melbourne Victory in a friendly match at the stadium on 31 July 2016.[8]

The stadium has also played host to one full international match on 30 December 2014, a pre-tournament friendly between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia prior to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup hosted by Australia, which ended as a 4-1 win for Bahrain.[9]

Kardinia Park was included in the Australia 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, with a proposed upgrade to 44,000 seats analogous to the later mooted Stage 5 of redevelopment, with the new multi tiered stand stretching all the way from the southern end, around the western side and the northern Ablett stand, however the bid lost out to Qatar.[10]

Other uses[edit]

During the late 1920s and early 1930s when Motorcycle speedway was becoming popular throughout Australia, Kardinia Park was home to a dirt track speedway known as the Geelong Velodrome. The Velodrome hosted the inaugural Victorian Solo Speedway Championship in 1926/27 and followed up with the second championship held in 1927/28. Both championships were won by Billy Pilgrim.


An A$28 million redevelopment of the ground was announced in 2003, with A$13.5 million in funding from the State Government, A$4.5 million from the Geelong Football Club, and A$2 million from the AFL.[11] The redeveloped ground was opened on 1 May 2005 during the first home game of the 2005 season which includes a new western entry and membership area, as well as a new five level grandstand with a capacity of approximately 6000 spectators on the eastern side of the stadium. A favourite for the honour of the naming of the new stand was Bob Davis, coach of the Cats' premiership side in 1963.

On 15 June 2005, City of Greater Geelong councillors granted the club its wish to change the name of the new eastern stand to the Reg Hickey Stand, while the southern stand became the Doug Wade Stand. The northern terrace became known as the Gary Ablett Terrace while the western gate was renamed the Bob Davis Gate.

In September 2007, Skilled Stadium received a further total of A$26 million towards the rebuilding of the Ross Drew Stand on the south western side of the ground that was completed by April 2010.[12] Funding for the project included A$14 million from the Federal Government and A$6 million from the Victorian Government.[13] The new stand, known as the Premiership Stand, caters for 3,551 supporters, and has facilities for a further 800 corporate guests on match days. The stand opened in round four of the 2010 AFL season, coinciding with the unveiling of the 2009 premiership flag.[14] A$50,000 was also spent on a new 600-seat temporary stand between the Reg Hickey and Doug Wade stands.[15]

In May 2009 it was revealed that the City of Greater Geelong as stadium owner had approached a number of Melbourne-based AFL clubs discussing the financial advantages of playing home games at the ground. The ground could see clubs earning A$30 a patron at Skilled Stadium, compared to A$7 earned at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. The Geelong Football Club had first floated Skilled Stadium as a potential home game venue for Melbourne clubs in 2006.[16]

On 10 April 2011, the Victorian Government announced it will invest A$25 million into the third stage of a major redevelopment of Geelong’s Skilled Stadium. Under the plans, the Doug Wade stand at the southern end of the stadium was pulled down at the end of the 2011 AFL season, with a new stand incorporating a new community wellness and education centre expected to be completed early in the 2013 season. Once finished it will increase the capacity of the stadium by more than 7000 to 33,500. Geelong CEO Brian Cook said stage three of the stadium's redevelopment would cost $34 million in total, with the club still looking for $3 million from both the AFL and the City of Greater Geelong.

On 13 May 2011, the Geelong Football Club applied for Federal Government funding for A$9 million to install AFL and international cricket standard lighting at the stadium, and $6 million to deliver a sports museum, permanent broadcast screens, improved food and beverage facilities for spectators, an upgrade to existing education centre plans, and a long room-style members' lounge.[17]

An AFL night match at Simonds Stadium (2014)

Unfortunately the estimated price of approximately $30 million was incorrect; in November 2011 it was reported that the actual cost would have been over $42 million. The Geelong Cats CEO Brian Cook announced that the club did not have the money to fund the extra $12 million for the originally planned expansion, so in order to bring the redevelopment cost back down to $30 million, a few minor cuts were made to the design: the capacity was reduced by 1000, a supporter's lounge was removed, and the plan was changed to use cheaper steel instead of concrete.[18] On 26 August 2012 the club announced it would be named the Players Stand, continuing its belief that the names of stands should reflect club values (e.g. the Premiership Stand). From 1 November 2011, the venue became known as Simonds Stadium, after homebuilding group Simonds Homes signed a five-year naming rights deal.[19][20]

On 31 October 2012, the AFL announced the first match of the 2013 AFL season to be played at the stadium will be the Cats versus Gold Coast on June 1. With a starting time of 7:40 pm, it was the first match played there at night and in artificial light from the new towers. The game was played in front of 30,082 fans, the largest crowd at the stadium at that time since the first stage of the re-development. Prior to the match, the Players Stand was officially opened.

In September 2014, then Victorian opposition leader Daniel Andrews promised $70 million to complete stage four of the upgrade of the oval in the Labor Party's successful election campaign. The stage funded involves demolishing the Brownlow and Jennings stands and replacing them with an extension of the Premiership stand, for a total capacity of 36,000.[21]

During 2015 laws were passed by the Victorian Government for management of the stadium to be taken over by a state appointed Kardinia Park Trust in line with practices at other major venues in the state.[22]

Hosted events[edit]

Attendance records[edit]

Top 10 sports attendances
No. Date Teams Sport Competition Crowd
1 30 August 1952 Geelong Cats v. Carlton Blues Australian rules football VFL 49,107
2 16 August 1980 Geelong Cats v. Collingwood Magpies Australian rules football VFL 42,278
3 20 April 1981 Geelong Cats v. Collingwood Magpies Australian rules football VFL 41,395
4 3 August 1963 Geelong Cats v. Essendon Bombers Australian rules football VFL 40,885
5 25 April 1964 Geelong Cats v. Collingwood Australian rules football VFL 40,299
6 28 March 1981 Geelong Cats v. Essendon Bombers Australian rules football VFL 37,256
7 12 July 1952 Geelong Cats v. Collingwood Magpies Australian rules football VFL 36,145
8 25 April 1970 Geelong Cats v. Collingwood Magpies Australian rules football VFL 35,654
9 13 June 1988 Geelong Cats v. Collingwood Magpies Australian rules football VFL 35,322
10 15 April 1967 Geelong Cats v. Collingwood Magpies Australian rules football VFL 35,151

Last updated 22 September 2013

Top 10 attendances since 2004- redevelopments
No. Date Teams Sport Competition Round Crowd
1 7 September 2013 Geelong v. Fremantle Australian rules football AFL Qualifying Final 32,815
2 1 June 2013 Geelong v. Gold Coast Australian rules football AFL Round 10 30,082
3 24 August 2013 Geelong v. Sydney Australian rules football AFL Round 22 28,459
4 21 June 2015 Geelong v. Melbourne Australian rules football AFL Round 12 28,007
5 8 August 2015 Geelong v. Sydney Australian rules football AFL Round 19 27,910
6 31 August 2013 Geelong v. Brisbane Lions Australian rules football AFL Round 23 27,467
7 23 May 2014 Geelong v. North Melbourne Australian rules football AFL Round 10 27,402
8 27 July 2013 Geelong v. St Kilda Australian rules football AFL Round 18 27,200
9 9 August 2014 Geelong v. Fremantle Australian rules football AFL Round 20 26,855
10 29 June 2013 Geelong v. Fremantle Australian rules football AFL Round 14 26,743

Last updated 20 August 2015

Highest crowd by sport
Sport Crowd Date Home team Away team
Australian Rules Football 49,109 30 August 1952 Geelong Cats Carlton
Association Football 21,289 2 January 2015 Melbourne Victory Perth Glory
Cricket (Twenty20) 12,327 4 January 2009 Victorian Bushrangers Queensland Bulls
Rugby Union 8,000 2012 Melbourne Rebels Waikato Chiefs


VFL/AFL records[edit]



Last updated: 25 May 2015.[23]


  • Length – 170m
  • Width – 115m
  • Goals run north to south


The field is the narrowest playing field used for AFL games, however many other venues are much shorter (with the Gabba being the shortest).


  1. ^ "Football". The Argus (Melbourne, VIC). 29 September 1884. p. 7. 
  2. ^ J.W. (3 December 1921). "Football – turning the tables". The Australasian CXI (2905) (Melbourne, VIC). 
  3. ^ "Football – New Association clubs". The Argus (Melbourne, VIC). 7 January 1926. p. 11. 
  4. ^ "All Power to the Cats on home turf". The Age. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 2001-04-11. 
  5. ^ "Cats seek new name for home". Tom Peeters. www.gfc.com.au. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  6. ^ Opening month of A-League season 10 features a series of blockbuster matches, Fox Sports Australia, 12 June 2014
  7. ^ Central Coast, Victory play out A-League classic Football Federation Australia official website, John Greco, 8 January 2016
  8. ^ Victory to play Atlético de Madrid in Geelong Melbourne Victory official website, 16 June 2016
  9. ^ Bahrain put four past Saudi Arabia in Geelong 31 December 2014, Roy Ward, Sydney Morning Herald
  10. ^ "AUSTRALIAN WORLD CUP STADIUMS". austadiums.com. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "KARDINIA PARK UPGRADE TO GIVE GEELONG NEW BOUNCE". Media Release: FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PREMIER. www.dtf.vic.gov.au. 20 June 2003. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  12. ^ Dylan Tickell (2 July 2008). "Spring start to Skilled work". Geelong News. p. 2. 
  13. ^ "Geelong Scores a Win with Funding for Skilled Stadium". Press Release – Peter Costello. www.treasurer.gov.au. 3 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  14. ^ "Stand taking shape". Richie Pace. www.gfc.com.au. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  15. ^ "Funding boost for Geelong clubs". The Geelong Advertiser. www.geelongadvertiser.com.au. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  16. ^ Peter Farago (9 May 2009). "Geelong puts out welcome mat for other AFL clubs". www.geelongadvertiser.com.au. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  17. ^ "Plan for $15m Skilled Stadium lighting and museum". Daniel Breen. Geelong Advertiser. 15 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  18. ^ "Stadium renovations still on track". Alex Oates. Geelong Advertiser. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  19. ^ Simonds Stadium new name for Kardinia Park
  20. ^ Cat's home re-branded
  21. ^ Labor pledges $100 million on upgrades for Simonds Stadium and GPAC Greg Dundas, Geelong Advertiser, 9 September 2014
  22. ^ Kardinia Park Trust closer to being reality as laws introduced Courtney Crane, Geelong Advertiser, 12 November 2015
  23. ^ http://afltables.com/afl/venues/kardinia_park.html


External links[edit]