Ambitious Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons wants to turn his city into 'the regional capital of soccer for Australia' but reckons he needs help to build a new 15,000 stadium.
Lyons labelled football 'a boom sport' in Geelong but concedes Victoria's second-largest city does not have the facilities to meet demand, especially if they are ever to become a target for A-League expansion.
A new boutique rectangular stadium could be the flagship for football in Geelong but Lyons has warned he cannot make it happen without assistance from federal and state governments, plus Football Federation Australia (FFA).
Geelong's Simonds Stadium - an oval venue - will host Central Coast Mariners versus Melbourne Victory on Friday, while last year the A-League champions played in front of 21,289 spectators in a 2-1 loss to Perth Glory.
"We want to be the regional capital of soccer for Australia and we have the potential to," Lyons said.
"It's a boom sport in a multicultural community, three-to-one boys and girls playing soccer over AFL [Australian rules] and as a city we're having trouble dealing with the growth and demand.
"Our facilities have to improve but we need help. It needs federal and state funding and we need help from Football Federation Australia, currently we are punching above our weight.
"Look at the last AFL draft, the talent isn't coming from big cities, they're coming from regional outposts.
"There is a huge opportunity for a 15,000-seater stadium at Armstrong Creek and we hope to put it on the agenda ahead of the next federal election."
Lyons also revealed he wants to develop a 'David Beckham-style elite training venue' but warned FFA needs to get more involved lobbying at all levels of government if they are to improve facilities around Australia.
"Lots of councils around the country don't take soccer seriously because it's supposedly not an traditional Australian sport, but I've lived abroad and understand the power of the game," Lyons said.
"I don't think councillors get it. They're traditionalists in cricket, netball, AFL and Geelong has been blinkered, yet soccer is booming; women's soccer is booming.
"We can't do it ourselves, we need tremendous state and federal support and the game deserves it."comments