Anthony Costa sports branding

Anthony Costa

Sports Identity & Design

VFL Park: The Stadium that Never Was

September 30, 2015
VFL Park Waverley

This week’s Hawks Eagles Grand Final has put VFL Park back in the spotlight. 75,000 packed ‘The Park’ to watch these two sides scrap for the 1991 Flag. Had the VFL had its way the crowd would have been more than double.

This splendid VFL promotional booklet from the 1960s lays out the original Waverley Park master plan. A brutalist behemoth, the stadium was originally intended to house 157,000 patrons (126,000 seated, 31,000 standing). 10,000 seats were allocated for league members, who would have chipped in handsomely to help fund the staggered construction of this Aussie rules ark. Planned amenities included a 1,150 seat function room, a 700 seat restaurant, a Vice-Regal room, a ring of corporate boxes for 2,200 patrons, car parking for 25,000 vehicles, a 4,000 seat ancillary oval, an indoor pool, facilities for baseball, basketball, athletics and gymnastics, a terminal for 300 busses, a helipad… and an ornamental lake.

The grandiose VFL Park dream would wither in the 20 years following the turning of the first sod. Clubs would get cold feet and resent the amount of Footy Record revenue being syphoned into the project. Promised transport links would never be built. MCC and State Government meddling nobbled a 1984 plan to add 30,000 seats and permanently move the Grand Final to Mulgrave’s dairy pastures.  

All up it was an impossibly ambitious plan, best summed up by this rosy line under the heading ‘Easy Come… Easy Go’:

Scientific planning and design will make it possible for huge crowds to move easily, rapidly and comfortably to and from the stadium and the park.

Scientific research into carpark mud still clearly had a long way to go.

Had VFL Park vision been fully built perhaps the Hawks and Eagles would be playing there this week. Or maybe it would be a derelict white elephant mammoth: too big, too far away, too costly to upgrade.

But still, I'd have loved to hear what 157,000 roaring at the first bounce sounds like. 

Heinz Grunwald is the artist behind this booklet’s beautiful layout. A Swiss designer who emigrated to Australia, his minimalist touch suited the subject matter to a tee. Google around and you’ll find some wonderful examples of his packaging and poster design.

Follow Anthony @costasports

Anthony Costa

Anthony Costa is a designer specialising in sports branding. Anthony has appeared on Fox Sports News and SEN radio and is an Australian Sports Commission Media Awards finalist. His work has been featured in The Age, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and Sports Business Insider Australia.

Follow @CostaSports

Free email updates

Chalkline Designs

Gameday graphics & sports logo design blog

What the Super Bowl Teams Won't be Wearing
On the bandwagon
Early 1950s English Football Logos
1973 IDEA Magazine Munich Olympics Feature