Essendon Football Club has today proudly unveiled the second stage of the state-of-the-art training and administration base at the NEC Hangar.
In a momentous morning for the Bombers celebrating the opening of the $21.5m redevelopment alongside Paralympics Australia and both Federal Government and Victorian State Government representatives, the club was proud to also announce an extension of its major naming rights partnership with NEC Australia for a further three years.
The second-stage development saw the completion of the Community, Education and Events Centre Project, completing Essendon’s original vision for the NEC Hangar, as well as addressing the growth in women’s and community sport in the north-west corridor of Victoria.
The project has also seen the completion of a dedicated women’s football performance and training centre, accessible dormitory accommodation that houses Australia’s para-athletes and supports national training camps for Paralympics Australia and participants in the club’s Next Generation Academy, and community change rooms and match-day facilities to support the club’s pathways programs and associated community leagues (Essendon District Football League and Riddell District Football Netball League).
A new all-encompassing community health and wellbeing hub has been established on the site which includes a health clinic, classroom space and community breakout and gathering place.
Finally, the Glory and Fame sports museum celebrating the rich history and achievements of athletes from the Essendon Football Club, Paralympics Australia and the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders Sports Hall of Fame will be open to the public, alongside a public atrium, café and Bomber Shop, from January 2022.
The NEC Hangar, the Victorian home base of Paralympics Australia, has now also boosted its status as an inclusive facility, with the venue incorporating full accessibility and purpose-built dormitory accommodation.
President Paul Brasher paid tribute to the many stakeholders involved in bringing the world-class redevelopment to life.
“Today is a significant and proud occasion for the Essendon Football Club. Our ambition has been to make the NEC Hangar a destination venue for our members, supporters, partners and importantly, the wider community. With the recent extension now complete, this grows the NEC Hangar into a $50m precinct that is genuinely world-class,” Brasher said.
“The NEC Hangar is a magnificent community asset for the north-west corridor of Victoria and the completion of this project will deliver significant outcomes for not only our own football programs, but Paralympics Australia, women’s and community football, The Long Walk and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.
“I wish to recognise both the Federal Government for their $4 million contribution towards developing the accessible facilities, and the State Government for their contribution of $6.3 million for the women’s and community football, health and education facilities to ensure the NEC Hangar provides elite facilities for all.
“We also wish to acknowledge the generous support from members of the red and black family, who together donated $11 million to contribute to this important project for the future of our football club.
“Furthermore, we also wish to thank Harris HMC, Jackson Architecture, Little Projects and the extended project team for their ongoing commitment in bringing the club’s vision to life.
“Finally, I would also like to acknowledge Chairman Mr Mike Mrdack, President and CEO Mr Mitsuhiro Murooka and the team at NEC Australia. This renewal will see our club continue our naming rights partnership, as well as our commitment to innovative NEC technology, including specifically across the high performance and data analytics departments.
“We thank NEC for their ongoing support of the Essendon Football Club, and we are pleased to celebrate their partnership extension on this significant day for our organisation.”
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula said the NEC Hangar sent a powerful message for women’s football.
“Talk about equality and opportunity in sport must be backed by actions, and providing facilities like these sends a powerful message to the current crop of stars and the girls who will follow in their footsteps,” Pakula said.
“From the grassroots to VFLW and AFLW, women’s footy is booming and we’re making sure women and girls have the facilities they need to be their best.”
Federal Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck highlighted the investment for Paralympics Australia.
“The Australian Government is pleased to invest in projects that get more Australians involved in sport, bring communities together and support our elite athletes to pursue sporting success on the global stage,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Our Paralympians displayed incredible talent, teamwork and resilience to claim 80 medals including 21 gold at the Tokyo Paralympics and are a huge source of inspiration to all Australians.
“As we turn our attention to the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games in March, these new facilities will help us increase participation at a higher number of training camps which will assist with high performance development and Paralympic talent identification, verification and retention.
“More importantly, I hope it inspires more people with disability to participate in and enjoy sport from grassroots right up to elite level competition.”
Paralympics Australia President Jock O’Callaghan said the NEC Hangar expansion would create more opportunities for current and emerging Paralympic talent.
“Paralympics Australia and Essendon Football Club have nurtured a special partnership over more than a decade. We come from different sporting worlds but our values, our culture, our respect for our people and our history are paramount in everything we do,” O’Callaghan said.
“This new development within our existing facility brings our relationship into a new era and we are very excited to unveil it today. It recognises and celebrates our past by showcasing Paralympic history within the museum, while also creating more opportunities for current and emerging Paralympic talent to utilise the wonderful accessible accommodation and a range of other new features within a high-performance environment.
“With outstanding support from the Federal Government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Sport Minister Senator Richard Colbeck that has enabled us to help bring this development to fruition, we are proud to work with the Essendon Football Club to keep breaking down barriers and to drive progress towards a genuinely inclusive society.”
NEC Australia President and CEO – ANZ Mitsuhiro Murooka said it was an important partnership with the Bombers.
“We are thrilled to be celebrating the opening of the new NEC Hangar and our continued partnership with the Essendon Football Club,” Murooka said.
“The new, state-of-the-art NEC Hangar facility will be instrumental in helping Essendon continue its valuable contribution to the future of Australian sport, its players, its club and its community.”