Kardinia Park (stadium)

Kardinia Park (also known as GMHBA Stadium due to naming rights) is a sporting and entertainment venue located within Kardinia Park, South Geelong, in the Australian state of Victoria. The stadium, which is owned and operated by the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust, is the home ground of the Geelong Football Club and the A-League football club Western United FC. The capacity of Kardinia Park is 36,000, making it the largest-capacity Australian stadium in a regional city.[1]

GMHBA Stadium
Kardinia Park
Former namesSkilled Stadium
Shell Stadium
Baytec Stadium
Simonds Stadium
LocationSouth Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Coordinates38°9′29″S 144°21′17″E
OwnerKardinia Park Stadium Trust
OperatorKardinia Park Stadium Trust/Geelong Football Club
Record attendance49,109 (30 August 1952 Geelong v Carlton)
Field size170 x 115 m
Construction costA$175 million redevelopment (2003–present)[nb 1]
ArchitectPopulous (company), Peddle Thorp (Redevelopment)
Australian Rules Football

Geelong Football Club (AFL) (1941–present)
Geelong Football Club (AFLW) (2019–present)
Melbourne Renegades (BBL) (2018–present)
Australia national cricket team (2017)
Western United (A-League) (2019–present)
Melbourne Victory (A-League) (2013–2019)

Melbourne Rising (NRC) (2015, 2018)
Ground information
International information
Only T20I19 February 2017:
 Australia v  Sri Lanka
As of 19 February 2017
Source: Cricinfo

Australian rules football

Early years

Football has been played on Kardinia Park since the 19th century,[2] 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[3] until 1925, before that club moved to the Western Oval in Geelong West;[4] 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

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. 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.[5]

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.[6] 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 one 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 AFL season, and the venue staged its first night match during the season.[7]

On 7 September 2013, Kardinia Park hosted its first ever AFL Final, a qualifying final against Fremantle Dockers, with Geelong losing the game 87-72.[8]

In its current layout Kardinia Park consists of the following seating areas: the Reg Hickey Stand, Players Stand, Premiership Stand, Brownlow Stand, Ford Stand/Fred Flanagan Room and the Gary Ablett Terrace, with the latter containing the main standing room section.[9]


In August 2019, it was announced that new A-League club Western United would play the majority of home matches at Kardinia Park for the upcoming 2019/20 season and for a further two or three years.[10] The club plans to play most home matches at Kardinia Park until moving into their proposed new stadium in Tarneit in Melbourne's West.[11] Their first game at the ground was a 1-1 draw with Perth Glory in front of 6,088 on 19 October 2019.[12]

Kardinia Park was included in the Australia 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, with a proposed upgrade to 44,000 seats analogous to the later proposed 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.[13]

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.[14] 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,[15] while the third was held on 2 January 2017 with Newcastle Jets as the visiting team, when a crowd of 14,081 witnessed Besart Berisha overtake Archie Thompson's all-time A-League scoring record in a 4–2 win for the Victory.[16] Victory and the stadium trust agreed to extend the deal by two more years in 2017.[17]

European Champions League finalists Atlético Madrid played Melbourne Victory in a friendly match at the stadium on 31 July 2016. Melbourne Victory won 1–0.[18]

The stadium has also played host to one full men's 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.[19]

The Australian women's national team, the Matildas, won a friendly match against China 5–1 on 26 November 2017, attracting a crowd of 6,338 even with a thunderstorm which forced a delay to the match of half an hour.[20]

Other uses

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.


In 2016, it was announced that international cricket would be played at the ground for the first time. The ground hosted second T20 International between Australia and Sri Lanka on February 19.[21] The ground witnessed memorable match between two nations, where Sri Lanka won the match by 2 wickets at the end. Sri Lanka chased 173 runs at the last ball of the match.[22]

On 3 January 2018 the ground hosted a Women's Big Bash League and Big Bash League double header with the Melbourne Renegades taking on the Sydney Sixers with the Renegades winning in both matches.

The ground has been confirmed as one of the venues to be used in the 2020 ICC T20 World Cup[23].


A A$28 million redevelopment of the ground was announced in 2003, with A$13.5 million in funding from the Victorian Government, A$4.5 million from the Geelong Football Club, and A$2 million from the AFL. 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 6,000 spectators on the eastern side of the stadium.[24][25]

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$25 million towards the rebuilding of the Ross Drew Stand on the south western side of the ground. Funding for the project included A$14 million from the Federal Government and A$6 million from the Victorian Government.[26] The new stand, known as the Premiership Stand, features seating for 4,500 supporters, including up to 800 corporate guests on match days. The stand opened on 10 April 2010 and was officially unveiled in round four of the 2010 AFL season, coinciding with the unveiling of the 2009 premiership flag.[27][28] A$50,000 was also spent on a new 600-seat temporary stand between the Reg Hickey and Doug Wade stands.

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.

In April 2011, plans for the third stage of redevelopment were revealed. 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. The works included the demolition of the old Doug Wade stand and the construction of a new 9,000 (approx.) seat Southern Grandstand. The new Grandstand also included:[29]

  • Improved spectator amenities
  • A Community Wellness and Education Centre – a purpose built training facility for community sporting groups
  • A new 'Past Players' room
  • Constructed concurrently to the Grandstand were four new light towers which comply with Australian Broadcast requirements. The new light towers allow the ground to host night AFL and cricket matches.

The redevelopment saw the stadium increase in capacity to 34,500. The redevelopment cost $33 million, of which $11.7 million was spent on the new lighting.[29]

Significant miscalculations were made with respect to the budget required for the stage 3 redevelopment and consequently several aspects of the plans were scaled back by the Geelong Football Club in November 2011, including the removal of a proposed supporters lounge and decreasing capacity by 1,000 seats.[30] The new grandstand was named the Players Stand in August 2012 and from 1 November 2011, the venue became known as Simonds Stadium, after homebuilding group Simonds Homes signed a five-year naming rights deal.[31]

The new Players Stand was officially opened on 1 June 2013, prior to Geelong's first proper home match of the 2013 AFL season against Gold Coast. The match was the first to be played under the new floodlights and was played before 30,082 fans, the largest crowd at the stadium at that time since the first stage of the re-development.[32]

The Brownlow and the Jennings Stands were pulled down at the end of the 2015 season to make way for a new state of the art grandstand. The new stand, eventually named the Brownlow Stand (in honour of the club's Brownlow Medal winners and Mr Charles Brownlow) was opened on 18 May 2017. The new stand features seating for 6,500 people, improved media facilities, a new 1000-seat function centre, merchandise store, café, an enhanced football department and the Sunrise Centre, a community facility providing rehabilitation for people returning to the workforce following serious injury.[33]

The total cost of the fourth stage of redevelopment was $91 million, of which $75m came from the Victorian Government, $6m from the City of Greater Geelong, $6 million from the Geelong Football Club and $4 million from the AFL.[33] The total capacity of Kardinia Park after the stage 4 redevelopment is nominally 36,000;[34] however, given the way the stadium is configured for AFL matches, its capacity is said to be unable to exceed 34,000.[35]

During 2016 laws were passed by the Victorian Parliament for management of the stadium to be taken over by a state appointed Kardinia Park Stadium Trust in line with practices at other major venues in the state.[36] Prior to this the venue had been owned and operated by the City of Greater Geelong, which now maintains and manages the broader Kardinia Park precinct, though not the actual stadium itself.[37]

In April 2017, the Victorian Government announced an investment of $3.9 million in the upcoming state budget to fund the planning and design stage for Stage 5 of the redevelopment. The proposed redevelopment would be the final part of the more than decade-long process to increase the capacity of Kardinia Park to 40,000 and will result in the Ford Stand and Gary Ablett Terrace being removed for the new stand to ring around the remaining open-air section of the stadium.[38][39]

In January 2018, the stadium was commercially named as GMHBA Stadium.[40]

Hosted events

Attendance records

Top 10 sports attendances
No. Date Teams Sport Competition Crowd
130 August 1952Geelong Cats v. Carlton BluesAustralian rules footballVFL49,107
216 August 1980Geelong Cats v. Collingwood MagpiesAustralian rules footballVFL42,278
320 April 1981Geelong Cats v. Collingwood MagpiesAustralian rules footballVFL41,395
43 August 1963Geelong Cats v. Essendon BombersAustralian rules footballVFL40,885
525 April 1964Geelong Cats v. Collingwood MagpiesAustralian rules footballVFL40,299
628 March 1981Geelong Cats v. Essendon BombersAustralian rules footballVFL37,256
712 July 1952Geelong Cats v. Collingwood MagpiesAustralian rules footballVFL36,145
825 April 1970Geelong Cats v. Collingwood MagpiesAustralian rules footballVFL35,654
913 June 1988Geelong Cats v. Collingwood MagpiesAustralian rules footballVFL35,322
1015 April 1967Geelong Cats v. Collingwood MagpiesAustralian rules footballVFL35,151

Last updated 22 September 2013

Top 10 attendances since 2004 – redevelopments
No. Date Teams Sport Competition Round Crowd
17 September 2013Geelong v. FremantleAustralian rules footballAFLQualifying Final32,815
212 August 2017Geelong v. RichmondAustralian rules footballAFLRound 2132,266
39 June 2018Geelong v. KangaroosAustralian rules footballAFLRound 1231,265
426 May 2018Geelong v. CarltonAustralian rules footballAFLRound 1031,090
528 April 2018Geelong v. SydneyAustralian rules footballAFLRound 631,036
64 August 2017Geelong v. SydneyAustralian rules footballAFLRound 2030,833
72 June 2017Geelong v. AdelaideAustralian rules footballAFLRound 1230,468
819 May 2017Geelong v. Western BulldogsAustralian rules footballAFLRound 930,275
926 August 2017Geelong v. Greater Western SydneyAustralian rules footballAFLRound 2330,087
101 June 2013Geelong v. Gold CoastAustralian rules footballAFLRound 1030,082

Last updated 16 June 2018

Highest crowd by sport
SportCrowdDateHome teamAway team
Australian Rules Football49,10930 August 1952Geelong CatsCarlton
Cricket (Domestic T20)23,5863 January 2018Melbourne RenegadesSydney Sixers
Association Football21,2892 January 2015Melbourne VictoryPerth Glory
Cricket (International T20)13,64719 February 2017AustraliaSri Lanka
Rugby Union8,0002012Melbourne RebelsWaikato Chiefs

VFL/AFL records



Last updated: 11 August 2019.[41]


  • 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).

Naming rights sponsors

  • 1999–2001: Shell
  • 2001: Baytec
  • 2001–11: Skilled
  • 2012–17: Simonds
  • 2018–present: GMHBA



  1. Note the following figures do not take into account inflation:
    • Stage 1 – $28 million (2003–05)
    • Stage 2 – $25 million (2007–10)
    • Stage 3 – $33 million (2011–13)
    • Stage 4 – $91 million (2015–17)
    • Stage 5 – $3.9+ million (2018–present)
      Refer to Redevelopment section of article for details and references for these figures.


  1. "GMHBA Stadium". Austadiums.
  2. "Football". The Argus. Melbourne. 29 September 1884. p. 7.
  3. J.W. (3 December 1921). "Football – turning the tables". The Australasian. CXI (2905). Melbourne.
  4. "Football – New Association clubs". The Argus. Melbourne. 7 January 1926. p. 11.
  5. "All Power to the Cats on home turf". The Age. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2001.
  6. "Cats seek new name for home". Tom Peeters. www.gfc.com.au. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
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  14. Opening month of A-League season 10 features a series of blockbuster matches, Fox Sports Australia, 12 June 2014
  15. Central Coast, Victory play out A-League classic Football Federation Australia official website, John Greco, 8 January 2016
  16. Record for Berisha as Victory trounce Jets Melbourne Victory Official Website, John Greco, 2 January 2017
  17. Geelong’s Kardinia Park to host more Melbourne Victory A-League games, Geelong Advertiser, Shane Fowles, 20 June 2017
  18. Victory to play Atlético de Madrid in Geelong Melbourne Victory official website, 16 June 2016
  19. Bahrain put four past Saudi Arabia in Geelong 31 December 2014, Roy Ward, Sydney Morning Herald
  20. Sam Kerr scores two as Matildas cap season with 5–1 win over China, The Australian, 27 November 2017
  21. "Sri Lanka tour of Australia, 2nd T20I: Australia v Sri Lanka at Geelong, Feb 19, 2017". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  22. "Gunaratne 84* caps stunning series win for Sri Lanka". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  23. "Eight cities throughout Australia to host ICC World T20 2020". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
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  25. "Department for Victorian Communities 2004–05 Annual Report" (PDF). Victorian Government. 1 July 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 May 2017. Refer to pp. 57
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  27. "Skilled Stadium Premiership Stand (d&e)". de-air.com.au. 1 January 2011. Archived from the original on 19 May 2017.
  28. "Skilled Stadium Premiership Stand (Watpac Limited)". Watpac.com.au. 1 January 2011. Archived from the original on 19 May 2017.
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  32. "Talking points: Cats and Suns". Geelong Cats. 1 June 2013. Archived from the original on 19 May 2017.
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  35. Fowles, Shane. "Simonds Stadium capacity: Geelong Cats reveal capacity crowd is 34,000". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
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