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AFL, clubs to combine to make Etihad great

AAP logoAAP 27/10/2016 Jason Phelan

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has challenged tenant clubs at Etihad Stadium to make the most of their new-found freedom at the venue from the start of the 2017 season.

The league's long-awaited purchase of the maligned stadium will be finalised in November, releasing St Kilda, North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs, Carlton and Essendon from burdensome financial contracts and restrictive game-day regulations.

The sale of the venue to the AFL, reported to be worth about $200 million, will give the league and clubs the ability to transform the game-day experience for supporters.

McLachlan said the AFL would do its part to improve that experience, but it would also be up to the clubs to innovate.

"I think there's room for improvement (but) the clubs are going to have to step up, too," McLachlan said on Thursday.

"They can't complain - they've got the keys to the car to make it the experience that they want.

"The AFL will own it and, ultimately, the clubs will have a bigger say in what the game looks like.

"People will know a different service proposition - they will notice substantive change."

St Kilda will get the first crack at hosting a home game at the venue under AFL ownership - a Saturday twilight match against Melbourne in round one.

"I believe that when you arrive at that stadium, you are entitled to a world-class service proposition," McLachlan said.

"I believe that you want to feel like it's a St Kilda game ... when you go there, you are surprised by how much everyone is working for you to have a good time.

"Whether it's when you get a beer and a pie, or when it's walking through the gates, or when you're lost and looking for your seat.

"Whether it's the audio and the screens and the story that's being told in the lead- up to the game."

McLachlan didn't go into the specifics of the proposed makeover of the game-day experience, which he said would be a work in progress over summer.

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