Fortunate enough to join a few notable Club contributors and current staff on a Club-guided tour and explanation of the new 'bee-hive' shared stadium facility in the Olympic Park precinct.

While well short of a fit out, the new facilities will be the much needed (!!) and anticipated (!!!!) quantum leap from the old (!!!!!!!!!!). Official completion is slated as April May 2010, but Club expects more likely June for the Football Department to move in.

Some highlights/specifics/confirmations as best I recall:
- we are the co-tenants with Storm and Victory, and from our point of view, this apparently will be very much our 'winter' base, with Casey our predominant 'summer' venue
- initially we will use (share) what is currently being called Gosch's Paddock 'One', the new oval currently being laid alongside Swan Street. This will be MCG-sized but multi-use, ie removable soccer, rugger, AFL goal posts etc.
- Club expects little problem in negotiation use with an estimated requirement of 6-8 hrs a week (plus still using Casey at times), and Victory being off-season to us
- eventually, when the Pies transfer to a redevelopment west of Lexus centre, the oval they currently use (the original Gosch's Paddock 'Two') will be ours more exclusively (although smaller than MCG size)
- Football Department only (General Admin will stay in MCG) will take up residence via street level entrance on the north west 'corner' of the stadium, closest by line of sight to the MCG.
- the 'admin' area (to the left viewed from Swan Street) is about 800m2 and consist of reception, coach and football staff offices, physio, multi purpose meeting rooms and plasmas etc, IT room etc., and includes: a 'Heritage Walk' honouring amongst other things Premierships (replicas trophies and flags as the MCC 'owns' all the originals), lists of players (to be added to annually), major contributors to the Club etc. Initial schematics suggest some use of polished timber, etched glass, mandatory red and blue 'v', old MFC logo etc. for a 'sophisticated' visual treatment (more so than the Lexus centre we all like to think!!!)

Player-specific facilities start comprise:
- the 'player' locker room area (to the right of admin) will include: new 'rugby' style open lockers (still with previous players listed, but also some narrative on the more notable ones), showers, toilets etc. There is a player lounge somewhere in the layout also (maybe in the admin area?).
- via a series of short walkway corridors-come-'tunnels' (bypassing Storm player area) our players will access a 1000sqm open space state-of-the-art gymnasium, including: sprung wooden floor section for beep tests, indoor drills etc., and $500,000-fully equipped gym. This is approximately 10 times the size of current Junction sweat shop, and basically faces out through a full glass wall to the east side of the Storm playing stadium. This facility will be shared between the three tenants - again no problem expected negotiating this.
- another corridor or tunnel takes us further south to the adjoining shared pool area (about 600m2 at a guess) featuring: a combined walking/deep swimming depth pool, group spa pool and 4 cold plunge baths, all again with glass wall to Storm stadium area
- via another short and low 'tunnel' (under the lower seating in the stand above) further to the south will be a 26 terminal and plasma equipped computer viewing room for individual and/or group analysis of player footage etc. Only concern here is anyone over 6 ft will need a crash helmet and might have to double over to avoid head injuries in the tunnel! Look out Max!!
- car park is a short walk on-site to behind Storm stadium, with additional spaces across Swan Street.
- in the foreseeable future, our players would be walking across from the 'G' after any games there, but the precinct masterplan includes extending a covered walkway all the way across from the current one to Swan Street, possibly right across into the 'bee hive'.

While yet to look anything like a completed project, it is still very impressive - and puts us at the top of the tree facilities-wise according to our guide Mat Green (impressive young man and encouragingly a longtime Demons fan). Apparently, not a match-stick of any of the furnishings or equipment from the Junction will be utilised - all brand spanking new!

Importantly, we have a long term arrangement, and (along with our co-tennants) have a right of 'veto' over any other tenancy applications. I believe there is also an exclusion on any other same code (AFL at least) club being allowed to join the facility.

This gives the Club a great deal of control and 'leverage' in regards to any future arrangements at the venue.

There seems to be a subtext here that suggests that given the right alternative or better opportunity and the appropriate and commensurate financial compensation, the Club would certainly consider moving from the 'bee hive'.

Think along the lines of another sporting club being desperate to join the facility, and MFC having the opportunity to consolidate our training and admin base into equivalent or better facilities at the MCG, or possible alternate stadiums at Docklands or as-yet-unnamed other sites.

It would seem we are open to these possibilities should the right and beneficial 'deal' present itself - a good piece of 'positioning' and long-term strategy it seems to me.

It almost seems surreal to see the bricks and mortar (or more correctly concrete) manifestation of something that been an awful long and troubled time coming - but it will be really something for our players and Club - practically, performance-wise and psychologically.

Well done to the administration and all involved! Another exciting element to add to 2010!!!!