Cricket wants Junction Oval on its terms

St Kilda FC training at Junction Oval on March 17, 2014. Photo: Twitter/St Kilda FC
St Kilda FC training at Junction Oval on March 17, 2014. Photo: Twitter/St Kilda FC

Cricket Victoria will only consider sharing the Junction Oval with the St Kilda Football Club if the summer sport is the main tenant with year-round, priority access to the historic ground.

CV boss Tony Dodemaide has held high-level talks with AFL executive Gillon McLachlan about a possible partnership with the Saints at a redeveloped Junction Oval but is yet to discuss the concept with the state government. He said the idea was "very much in its infancy".

"We are the head lease-holder at the Junction Oval and we would certainly insist on remaining so," Dodemaide said.

"We need an alternative first-class ground and a year-round operating base, that is something we have never had, so it's very important to us that we get the sort of scope and priority use that we need.

"That's not to say we can't have partners or other activities at the site, anything that is complementary to those things we are happy to look at and always have been. But there is a lot of other issues and practicalities to work through to see whether it's doable."

The proposed joint venture, revealed in The Age on Thursday, involves cricket using the refurbished main oval while St Kilda would train on the community ground across the road, connected by a tunnel, similar to Gosch's Paddock in the Olympic Park precinct.

Among cricket's concerns is the cost of the project, which Dodemaide expects would rise if St Kilda moved its training base from Seaford to the Junction Oval, and the source of funding. The state government has pledged $10 million if it is matched by the Abbott government but the message from Canberra is that federal money is unlikely to come from existing channels.

Cricket, which also needs a base for its elite women's program, needs to be convinced that it is realistic to share gyms, recovery facilities and administrative space. Among the drawbacks of being based at the MCG, Victoria's only Sheffield Shield venue, is the fact that cricketers do not have full, year-round access to the ground and its facilities.

St Kilda Cricket Club, which has called the Junction Oval home for 150 years, also has an interest in the plan.

Cricket clubs that once shared suburban grounds with VFL or AFL teams have been booted off with the exception of Essendon at Windy Hill. The Bombers eventually built a new state-of-the-art training base at Tullamarine.

"There are numerous grounds dedicated to footy around the state and we're looking for one cricket ground we can call our own and operate because we do have an expanding program," Dodemaide said.

"We want to be able to say we can have priority access... There is a lot to work through but we're not knocking it on the head, we've always been open to other partners and uses but first and foremost it has to be complementary to what we need."

This story Cricket wants Junction Oval on its terms first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.