Brisbane Lions’ new Springfield training facility raises AFL benchmark, with men and women equal priorities

The Brisbane Lions will set a new AFL benchmark for high-performance environments — for both their men’s and women’s sides — when the club’s $80 million training base is unveiled in September.

The training and administration facility in Springfield, 30 minutes west of Brisbane, is 80 per cent complete and will give the club’s AFLW side its first permanent home, having played at six different venues since 2017. 

The 10,000-seat boutique stadium, overlooking the new Michael Voss Oval, will be used for AFLW games, VFLW games and the AFL side’s practice matches.

The investment is the biggest spend from an AFL club to date on such infrastructure, after the West Coast Eagles spent $60 million on their facility unveiled in 2019.

It has a 50m indoor training field and kick room, gymnasium, lap pool, aquatic recovery pools, high-tech learning and teaching facilities, auditorium and administration offices.

Perhaps most importantly, there will be two locker rooms, in equal dimension — one for the men’s side and one for the women’s side.

Premiership-winner Nat Grider believes the new centre will make the Lions the benchmark in the AFLW.(Supplied.)

No other AFL club has a high-performance facility purpose-built for their women’s team.

“It makes us as female athletes feel really valued and knowing that we have that same respect that they give to the men,” Lions Premiership player Nat Grider told ABC Sport.

“Other teams in the AFL competition then look at us and think ‘we need to do that’, [which] will not only improve us as a club, but the actual future of the competition as well.

“To have somewhere to call home is really exciting for us, let alone to have a facility of this calibre as well.

“Getting home games here would be amazing, just having that little fortress that we can invite opposition teams into — it might just give us that edge we’re looking for.”

Moving day is scheduled for September, with the oval’s turf expected to be ready to host games in October.

A date hasn’t been set for the next AFLW season, but an August start has been floated.

An artists impression of the AFLW dressing rooms at the new Lions facility
The men’s and women’s change rooms at the new Lions facility will be of equal size. (Supplied)

Recruitment and retention

Both the Lions sides have built successful on-field programs in recent seasons, finishing towards the top of the ladder, with the AFLW side winning their maiden premiership in 2021.

The new facility is expected to give the club another competitive advantage.

“The high performance aspect of it is great for our on-field performance,” Lions chairman Andrew Wellington said.

“It’s also great for our retention — athletes want to be an environment where you’re giving them the best chance to be successful.”

The Lions have battled training disruptions for years, with players only permitted to train on the Gabba for one hour a week during the season, and cricket taking over the lease in alternative months.

A man in a hard hat
Lions chairman Andrew Wellington says the facility will give athletes their best chance to be successful.(Supplied)

“At the moment, the men may be training at Yeronga, then do their gym at the Gabba, and their rehab somewhere else,” Wellington said.

“Soon it’s all going to be here (Springfield) — they’ll be able to come and spend their day here, there’ll be areas where they can rest and do some recreation as well.”

Lions general manager of infrastructure, Jake Anson, said the facility will set a new benchmark for AFL sporting infrastructure.

“We’ve got the largest gym floor area of any of the AFL clubs, and a large indoor training field that will revolutionise the types of training that we can do with our players,” he said.

“After the AIS in Canberra, we’ve got one of the best wet recovery set-ups in the country. We have one of the best dry recovery set-ups as well.”

Gabba redevelopment

The new facility could also become the club’s best option for a home venue when the Gabba is knocked down and redeveloped for the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games.

At this stage, the new arena will only cater for up to 10,000 fans but the Lions do have approval to build or add additional temporary seating to fit up to 25,000 people.

“We haven’t ruled out that it could host home-and-away games, that’s certainly a possibility,” Wellington said.

A construction site of a high-performance sports centre
The Lions new high-performance centre will open in September

“But we’re considering some other options as well.”

Among the list of possible venues is the Ekka Showgrounds and Carrara Stadium, currently home to the Gold Coast Suns.

“We don’t want to lose a home ground advantage,” Wellington said.

“We want to find a facility that will enable us to stay connected with our members and supporters. 

“Three years is a long time, if that’s the construction period, to lose that connection, so it’s important that wherever we go, we can maintain that connection and obviously then there’s financial considerations as well.”

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