Moorabbin Oval
RSEA Park
Training drill in front of stand, St Kilda FC 01.jpg
St Kilda training in front of the G. G. Huggins Stand (demolished in 2017) before the 2009 AFL Grand Final
Former namesMoorabbin Oval
Location32-60 Linton Street, Moorabbin, Victoria
Coordinates37°56′15″S 145°02′38″E / 37.9375°S 145.0439°E / -37.9375; 145.0439Coordinates: 37°56′15″S 145°02′38″E / 37.9375°S 145.0439°E / -37.9375; 145.0439
OwnerSt Kilda Saints Football Club Ltd (since 1964-5)
OperatorSt Kilda Saints Football Club Ltd
Capacity8,000[1]
SurfaceGrass
Opened1952
Tenants
St Kilda Football Club (VFL/AFL)
Administration & Training (1965–2010), (2018-present)

St Kilda Football Club
(AFLW) (2020–)
VFL/AFL (1965-1992)

Melbourne Reds, ABL (1994-1999).

Moorabbin Oval (also known as RSEA Park under a naming rights agreement[2]) is an Australian rules football ground in the city of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia at Linton Street in the suburb of Moorabbin.[3]

The ground was most notable as the home of the St Kilda Football Club in the Australian Football League, serving as its home ground for VFL/AFL matches from 1965 until 1992, and as its primary training and administrative base from 1965 until 2010. In 2018 the ground was once again reopened as the primary training and administrative base for St Kilda.[4]

History

In 1951, the growing City of Moorabbin committed to developing a fenced football venue which was up to Victorian Football Association standards to be used by the Moorabbin Football Club. The strong club had been admitted from the Federal District League to the VFA in 1951, and its continued admission was contingent on the council developing Moorabbin Oval for its use.[5] The venue became one of the highest quality venues in the Association, and was noted for having the largest playing surface in the Association, similar in size to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Starting from 1960, the Moorabbin Council worked actively to bring VFL football to the venue. After it was found that the VFL was unlikely to admit the Moorabbin Football Club as a new team,[6] the council began negotiating for existing VFL clubs, many of which were dissatisfied with their home grounds at the time, to move to Moorabbin. In 1963, both Richmond and Fitzroy were approached,[7] and then in early 1964, the council came to an agreement with the St Kilda Football Club. St Kilda relocated its training, playing and administrative base from the St Kilda Cricket Club Ground (the "Junction Oval") to Moorabbin Oval at the end of the 1964 season.[8][9]

The council invested a further £100,000 to bring the venue to VFL standards and expand its capacity to 50,000. The St Kilda Football Club signed a 75-year - £5,000 per year (initially) deal for the ground with an up front lump sum payment, under which it became ground manager, and committed to invest £120,000 in establishing a licensed social club and to invest £375,000 for ground improvements over the first 45 years of the deal (a period which expired at approximately the end of 2009). The Moorabbin Football Club, then the defending VFA premiers, supported the move and attempted an amalgamation with St Kilda, actions which resulted in its suspension from the VFA.[10] A new grandstand was finished before the 1965 VFL season. St Kilda FC also agreed to lease parkland belonging to the local council on the outer side of the ground outside the clubs property - so that if further spectator seating or carpark developments occurred there would be more room for the constructions.

The St Kilda Football Club completed its financial obligation to make ground improvements prior to the end of 2009, including redeveloping the G.G. Huggins Stand into the main training and administration base for the club when home games at Moorabbin ceased in 1992.[11] The 75-year deal precludes Moorabbin Oval from being sold until approximately 2039.

St Kilda Football Club

Moorabbin Oval entrance
Moorabbin Oval entrance

The St Kilda Football Club left their original home ground, the Junction Oval after the 1964 season and moved to Moorabbin Oval, motivated by the desire to operate its own venue.[6][12][13] In March 1964, the club arranged a deal to move its playing, training and administrative base to Moorabbin Oval with all home games at the new venue starting the 1965 season.[14] The club signed a lease agreement in August 1964, giving the club access to all Moorabbin Oval facilities for 75 years, provided it completed required works at the ground to establish a social club, training facilities and spectator seating on the site in time for the 1965 Premiership season. The club had to invest a set amount, combined with funds from the local council, and complete the required works by a deadline date to ensure the agreement was ratified and the purchase was complete. Loans provided to St Kilda by the Council were to be repaid over the subsequent lease period.[15] St Kilda Football Club's move to Moorabbin Oval was seen as highly successful. In its first season at the new ground the club played in front of capacity crowds. The Saints' first ever home game at Moorabbin attracted a record crowd of 51,370 against Collingwood in Round 1, 1965, a record that was never broken. When it was first used, Moorabbin Oval was the third largest ground by capacity in metropolitan Melbourne after the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Princes Park; it was relegated to fourth place following the opening of VFL Park in 1970.

St Kilda ceased playing home games at Moorabbin Oval after 1992 and began playing home fixtures at Waverley Park, as part of the AFL's grounds rationalization strategy of the early 1990s. The club received $430,000 upfront and $120,000 per year for three years from the AFL as part of the change, which helped to clear some of the club's debt.[16] St Kilda's final home game for premiership points at Moorabbin Oval was the Round 20 match on 1 August 1992, an 18-point win over the Fitzroy Lions in front of 27,736.[17]

The St Kilda Football Club played 254 matches for premiership points at Moorabbin Oval between 1965 and 1992, with an average attendance of 21,232. In the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s, when St Kilda suffered form severe financial hardship and had generally weak results, the ground was often quite muddy due to ground management issues including security. Other organisations who did not own their home base or stadium took exception at St Kilda FC's "groundbreaking" deal to buy Moorabbin Oval in the 1960s with the 75 year payment deal and attempts to force St Kilda out of Moorabbin Oval by those who claimed to take offence at the club ownership of it were common - particularly after St Kilda won its first Premiership in 1966.[18]

St Kilda Football Club Match Record at Moorabbin Oval
Venue Played Won Lost Drawn Most Recent Match
Moorabbin Oval 254
~
134
(52.76%)
118
(46.46%)
2
(0.78%)
1992 AFL Premiership Season Round 20
1965 to 1992

After home games ceased being played at Moorabbin Oval, the club maintained its training and administrative base at the ground. The ground was extensively renovated to provide training, administration and entertainment facilities within the Huggins Stand and a heritage museum in the Drake Stand. The G.G. Huggins Stand had three internal floors that contained player rooms, a fully equipped player gymnasium, football department meeting rooms, administration offices, a membership department, gaming room and bar, the Trevor Barker Room (a function room with a bar), club shop, trophy and memorabilia display areas and other facilities.

In 2007, the relationship between the club and the City of Kingston deteriorated, and St Kilda announced that it would move its primary administrative and training base away from Moorabbin. A new facility was built at Belvedere Park in Seaford, approximately 21 kilometers south of Moorabbin; the development was a St Kilda Football Club development in conjunction with the Frankston City Council, the State Government of Victoria and the AFL. St Kilda moved to the Seaford base after the 2010 season;[19] but, the club still managed Moorabbin Oval and used it as a retail, museum, entertainment and occasional training venue.[20]

RSEA Park Development and St Kilda Football Club return to the ground

Renamed RSEA Park - St Kilda's Moorabbin venue was approved for a $30 million redevelopment financed by the State Government, St Kilda Saints Football Club, Australian Football League, Kingston Council and local football leagues. The St Kilda Football Club returned to Moorabbin Oval as its primary training and administrative base in March 2018.[21] [22]

The venue will also serve as the home ground for the Sandringham Dragons and the Southern Football League and other local community clubs and leagues.[23] Stage 1 was due for completion in November 2018. As part of the upgrade, the Drake Stand and G. G. Huggins stand were removed.[24]

As part of the deal, the leased parkland outside the property borderline on the outer side of the ground was released back to the local council, with St Kilda FC no longer required to maintain rental payments.

Stage 2

Moorabbin Oval commenced a second stage of development after a state government grant of $13 million was publicly announced on 13 April 2018. Stage 2 will include the construction a Community Health & Wellbeing Centre, a four-lane lap pool, a hydrotherapy pool, male and female changerooms, an additional gym, integrated classroom/suite spaces and a 1000-seat grandstand.[25][26] Work on Stage 2 commenced in August 2019.[26] In November 2020 the Saints renamed the Health and Wellbeing Centre to the Danny Frawley Centre for Health and Wellbeing, in honour of their former captain. The facility is a multi-purpose space capable of delivering wellbeing programs to schools and community groups of up to 250 participants and will also include dedicated mental health facilities and consultation rooms. It also houses a 25m lap pool, hydrotherapy pool, a community gym, recovery centre and yoga studio.[27] The centre was opened on 1 March 2022 with VIPs in attendance including AFL CEO Gillion McLachlan, Nick Riewoldt, Stewart Loewe, Gary Lyon, Jason Dunstall and film star Eric Bana.[28] Victorian Tourism Minister Martin Pakula and Senator Jane Hume also attended.[29]

In August 2021, the Saints announced a multi-million dollar upgrade of the ground’s turf, drainage and irrigation system and footpaths. Funding was contributed by the Federal Government, Victorian Government, Kingston City Council and the AFL. The turf upgrade was expected to be completed by mid-February 2022.[27]

Melbourne Reds

Moorabbin Oval was the home of the Melbourne Reds in the former Australian Baseball League from 1994 to 1999.

VFL/AFL Records

An estimated crowd of 10,000[30] packed into Moorabbin Oval to watch St Kilda Football Club train prior to the 2009 AFL Grand Final
An estimated crowd of 10,000[30] packed into Moorabbin Oval to watch St Kilda Football Club train prior to the 2009 AFL Grand Final

St Kilda FC Club Records

Grandstands

Naming rights

In popular culture

An abandoned Moorabbin Oval was the site of a police targeting sniper in Season 1 Episode 3 of the Melbourne-based police drama Rush.

Weddings Parties Anything references the Oval in their song A Decent Cup of Coffee

References

  1. ^ "Moorabbin Oval". Austadiums. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  2. ^ Wilson, Caroline (10 March 2017). "St Kilda's home base gets a new name". The Age. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  3. ^ "RSEA Park". Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  4. ^ "RSEA Park". Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  5. ^ "Moorabbin Football Club - Info". Australian Football.com. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b Ron Carter (25 March 1964). "St. Kilda moving to Moorabbin next year". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. p. 25.
  7. ^ Scot Palmer (10 October 1963). "Top VFA clubs in trouble". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 62.
  8. ^ Jack Dunn (25 March 1964). "Saints will move to Moorabbin in '65". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 52.
  9. ^ "End of an era: No more footy at Junction Oval". 21 July 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  10. ^ Peter Stone (4 April 1964). "V.F.A. suspends Moorabbin for season". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. p. 20.
  11. ^ Rex Pullen (5 August 1964). "Saints given 75-yr. lease". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 56.
  12. ^ "About". saints.com.au. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  13. ^ "End of an era: No more footy at Junction Oval". 21 July 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  14. ^ Jack Dunn (25 March 1964). "Saints will move to Moorabbin in '65". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne. p. 52.
  15. ^ Whitehead, Graham. "The Saints Come to Moorabbin | Kingston Local History". localhistory.kingston.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  16. ^ Patrick Smithers (14 July 1992). "Saints vote for move to Waverley". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. p. 40.
  17. ^ "AFL Tables – St Kilda All Games – By Team". AFL Tables. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  18. ^ Glenn McFarlane (1 September 2016). "Danny Frawley looks back at Moorabbin's memorable moments". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  19. ^ Matt Windley (3 January 2011). "Saints ready for life at Seaford training base". Herald Sun. Melbourne. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  20. ^ Paul Amy (20 March 2013). "Talks on multi-million dollar upgrade for St Kilda Football Club's spiritual Moorabbin home". Moorabbin Kingston Leader. Moorabbin, VIC. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  21. ^ "Saints Return Home". St Kilda Football Club Official Site. saints.com.au. 19 March 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Moorabbin Oval". St Kilda Football Club Official Site. saints.com.au. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  23. ^ Sommerville, Troels (5 May 2014). "Moorabbin Oval to get $8M Injection". Moorabbin Kingston Leader.
  24. ^ "RSEA Park Moorabbin Cunstruction Updates". St Kilda FC. 23 August 2017.
  25. ^ "RSEA Park's $13 million State Government grant". Moorabbin Kingston Leader. 13 April 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Official AFL Website of the St Kilda Football Club". saints.com.au. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  27. ^ a b "Moorabbin Oval to undergo multi-million dollar upgrade". saints.com.au. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  28. ^ "'New beginning': Stars and Saints gather to open Danny Frawley Centre". saints.com.au. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  29. ^ "Saints officially launch the Danny Frawley Centre". saints.com.au. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  30. ^ "Huge crowds flock to training". St Kilda Football Club Official Site. saints.com.au. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  31. ^ "A new name for Moorabbin Oval - Official AFL Website of the St Kilda Football Club". Archived from the original on 29 October 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2009.