York Park


York Park

Infobox_Stadium
stadium_name = York Park
nickname = Aurora Stadium


location = Launceston, Tasmania
broke_ground = 1919
opened = 1921
closed =
demolished =
owner = Launceston City Council
operator = AFL Tasmania
surface = Grass
construction_cost = Unknown
dimensions = 175 x 145 m
architect = Various
former_names =
tenants = Tasmanian Devils Football Club (VFL) (2001-present)
Hawthorn Hawks (AFL) (2001-present)
North Launceston Football Club (NTFL) (unknown-present)
seating_capacity = 20,000

York Park, presently known as Aurora Stadium under a naming-rights sponsorship deal, is an Australian rules football ground located in Inveresk, an inner city suburb of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. It's the largest capacity stadium in Tasmania. [http://www.pitchcare.com.au/magazine/article/216]

It was originally the home of the North Launceston Football Club. Since 1999 it has undergone a series of redevelopments as part of the bid to get Australian Football League games to Tasmania. The upgrades have included additional seating and grandstands, as well as lights for night games. It currently has a capacity of around 20,000, due to a fire in March 2008 destroying part of the Northern Stand and therefore reducing its capacity.cite news|url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/03/31/2203444.htm|title=Arson suspected in historic grandstand fire|publisher=ABC News|date=2008-03-31|accessdate=2008-06-09]

In September 2004, Aurora Energy secured the naming rights to the stadium for the next six years. [cite news|url=http://www.austadiums.com/news/news.php?id=97|title=New name for York Park|date=2004-09-28|accessdate=2008-06-13|publisher=Austadiums.com] The precinct around the stadium will still be called York Park, but the stadium itself will be referred to as "Aurora Stadium" until 2010.

History

The area now known as York Park was originally swampland. It was converted into a sports field in the early 1920s. Since 1923 the ground has hosted first-class Australian rules football. Other sports played in the park precinct in the years since establishment have included cricket, tennis, bowling, cycling and foot-racing. It was formally opened on January 1 1921, and named in honour of the Duke of York (later to become King George V), who visited Tasmania during the Federation celebrations of 1901.cite news|url=http://northerntasmania.yourguide.com.au/news/local/sport/general/the-making-of-tassies-biggest-sport-icon/916092.aspx|title=The making of Tassie's biggest sports icon|publisher=The Examiner|date=2006-09-03|accessdate=2008-08-10]

As late as 1998, York Park remained a suburban sports ground, where, according to ground manager Robert Groenewegen, supporters were able to "park [their] car next to the boundary fence".

Before the 1998 federal election, Bass MP Warwick Smith made a re-election promise to fund the re-development of York Park. Although Smith failed to win his seat, the promise was upheld by the federal Liberal government. Completed in 2000, this was the first major development to bring the ground up to AFL standards. This included the Gunns Stand - a two-level grandstand with corporate facilities, at a cost of $12.5 million, as well as five light towers for television standard lighting levels.cite web|url=http://www.austadiums.com/stadiums/stadiums.php?id=141|title=Austadiums.com - Aurora Stadium|accessdate=2008-06-09] cite web|url=http://www.aurorastadiumlaunceston.com.au/yorkpark.html|title=Aurora Stadium - Map|accessdate=2008-06-11]

In 2003, it was announced that the Government would spend $2 million in roofing for an additional 6,000 seats, resulting in almost the entire seated capacity of the ground being protected from weather. [cite news|url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2003/04/07/826044.htm|title=Council welcomes York Park seating boost|date=2003-04-07|publisher=ABC News|accessdate=2008-06-09]

In 2006 the Tasmanian Government supplied $150,000 for new gates and ticket boxes at the entry to the stadium. It was announced the gates would be named after recently deceased Premier Jim Bacon. [cite news|url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2006/08/18/1718360.htm|title=York Park gates to be named after Bacon|publisher=ABC News|date=2006-08-16|accessdate=2008-06-09]

In March 2008, a deliberately lit fire destroyed part of the heritage-listed Northern Stand. Damage was estimated at A$500,000. The insurance payout from the fire may be used to determine whether the venue is expanded. [cite news|url=http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,22884,23802219-13222,00.html|title=Bigger Aurora Stadium planned|publisher=The Mercury|date=2008-06-03|accessdate=2008-06-09]

Ground manager Robert Groenewegen has suggested that the capacity could be increased to around 24,000 by replacing the old Northern Stand, at an estimated cost of $10 million.cite news|url=http://northerntasmania.yourguide.com.au/news/local/politics/no-takers-on-10m-stadium-expansion-plan/1244873.html|title=No takers on $10m stadium expansion plan|publisher=The Examiner|date=2008-06-03|accessdate=2008-06-11]

tadium facilities

The stands and facilities at the stadium include:

*The "Gunns Stand" (named after timber company Gunns Limited) in the south west of the oval. It cost $12.5 million to build and has a capacity of 6,000. It has two tiers of seating and several corporate box areas, "Gunns Function Centre" and "Corporate Function Centre".cite web|url=http://www.aurorastadiumlaunceston.com.au/content/view/17/31/|title=Aurora Stadium - Event Hospitality|accessdate=2008-06-11]

*The "Aurora Function Centre" is a corporate area immediately north of the Gunns Stand.

*The "Northern Terrace", "Southern Terrace" and "Eastern Terrace" stands are covered stands which combined surround approximately half the oval. The Northern and Southern terraces are positioned behind the goals at either end of the ground.

*The "Northern Stand", just to the west of the Northern Terrace, was partly destroyed by fire in March 2008.

*The "Railway Workers Hill" is a small, uncovered stand located at the eastern side of the ground. North Launceston Football Club was originally named Railway Football Club.

As of June 2008, the Government of Tasmania has spent a total of $14 million on the venue.

Events

Australian rules football

Australian rules football is the primary sport played at the stadium. The ground is the long time home of North Launceston Football Club and as a result, hosts regular Northern Tasmanian Football League and Northern Tasmanian Football Association matches.

The stadium has hosted AFL games regularly since 2001, when the Government of Tasmania started paying interstate clubs to relocate their home games. Hawthorn played a season game in 2001, increasing to two games in 2002 and joined by St Kilda in 2003. In 2004 it was estimated that each game cost the government between $300,000 and $500,000, but Premier Jim Bacon stated that the Government was getting a good return on its investment, with each game being worth between $1 million and $1.5 million to the Tasmanian economy. [cite news|url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2004/06/10/1128808.htm|title=Tas footing big bill for York Park match|date=2004-06-10|publisher=ABC News|accessdate=2008-06-10] [cite news|url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2003/09/24/952429.htm|title=York Park kicking goals for Tas economy|publisher=ABC News|date=2003-09-24|accessdate=2008-06-10]

The number of matches played reached it's peak in 2006, when Hawthorn played three home games and a pre-season game, and St Kilda played two home games. The games drew consistently good crowds, with the 2006 premiership games drawing an average of over 17,000 and a record crowd of 20,971 for the Hawthorn vs Richmond match.

2007 saw the beginning of a five-year, $15 million sponsorship agreement between Hawthorn and the Government of Tasmania which saw the state government become the club's primary sponsor, and Hawthorn playing five matches a year (one pre-season and four premiership games) at Aurora Stadium. [cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/Sport/Hawks-confirm-Tasmanian-deal/2006/09/01/1156817089662.html|title=Hawks confirm Tasmanian deal|date=2006-09-01|publisher=The Age|accessdate=2008-06-10] [cite news|url=http://www.abc.net.au/sport/columns/200609/s1732788.htm?afl|title=Lifeline to the big time|date=2006-09-04|accessdate=2008-06-10|publisher=ABC (Australia)]

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has expressed interest in seeing his club play higher profile clubs such as Collingwood at the stadium.

From 2001 until 2007, the ground also hosted Tasmanian Devils Football Club home games in the Victorian Football League. They mostly now play their matches at Hobart's Bellerive Oval. Three VFL games are scheduled at Aurora Stadium in 2008

Aurora Stadium was the location of the 2006 AFL siren controversy, a bizarre incident which occurred at a St Kilda Saints versus Fremantle Dockers match in April 2006. Fremantle was a point in front when the siren to end the game sounded during a stoppage for a ball-up, but the umpire in charge of the ball at the time did not hear the siren, and carried on play despite the reactions of the Fremantle players around him. According to the laws of the game, the game has not ended until the umpire acknowledges the siren by raising both hands in the air, and that "the siren should be sounded by the timekeepers until the umpire acknowledges".

What followed was a farcical situation where play continued for approximately six seconds, St. Kilda levelling the scores in that period, "that" score being cancelled when a St. Kilda player was felled after the ball was kicked, earning a free kick, off which a behind was scored, levelling the scores anyway. After a protest the AFL commission convened and overturned the result to award Fremantle the game, and in the process according to a number of local football identities over ruled the traditional power of the umpires on match day.

The sirens have since been replaced, with the old "quiet" sirens to be displayed at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in the future. [cite web|url=http://www.aurorastadiumlaunceston.com.au/content/view/25/40/|title=Aurora Stadium - Sirengate|accessdate=2008-06-13]

Association football

The stadium has been host to one National Soccer League game and three A-League pre-season games.

The first national league match at the stadium occurred when Melbourne Knights and Perth Glory played a 2001-02 NSL season match in front of a crowd of over 5000. [cite web|url=http://www.ozfootball.net/ark/NSL/20012002/Round20.html|title=NSL 2001-02, Round 20|publisher=Ozfootball.net|accessdate=2008-06-10]

In July 2006, the stadium hosted Tasmania's first A-League match when Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United played there in the pre-season competition.. The fixture was repeated in 2007 and 2008. [cite news|url=http://www.a-league.com.au/default.aspx?s=hal_newsdisplay&id=22066|title=Football spreads its reach|date=2008-05-02|publisher=A-League website|accessdate=2008-06-10]

Inveresk Precinct Authority chairman Robin McKendrick has stated that they are attempting to draw Socceroos matches to York Park. [cite news|url=http://northerntasmania.yourguide.com.au/articles/1009447.html|title=Socceroos could play at Aurora|publisher=The Examiner|date=2007-07-21|accessdate=2008-06-11]

Other events

York Park has also hosted:
*A game in the 2003 Rugby World Cup between Romania and Namibia
*The Crusty Demons Tour 06
*Elton John - Rocket Man Solo Tour, 8 December, 2007
*Ike & Tina Turner concert
*Billy Graham evangelical performance

Elton John Concert

15,000 people welcomed Elton John to Launceston for the first time. Aurora Stadium was turned from an AFL oval into a concert venue in a matter of days to host the well renowned Elton John. He opened the concert with the popular; Your Song and 60 Years On. Many different age groups went along to see the concert, in what was his first Tasmanian appearance.

Giant video screen were erected beside both sides of the stage, so all audience members could have the best possible view. [cite web|url=http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,22884,22893452-5007221,00.html|title=Elton thrills 15,000 fans|publisher=Mercury|accessdate=2008-08-28]

Record crowds

A record crowd of 20,971, saw - Hawthorn Hawks v Richmond Tigers - 2006 AFL season on (18 June). It was a clear day with Hawthorn eventually winning.

On the 9 August 2008, a capacity crowd of 19,929 saw Hawthorn Hawks take on the Brisbane Lions, with Hawthorn winning in Shane Crawford's 300th match.

Aurora Stadium's 3rd highest crowd was 19,378, also during the 2008 Season, this time on 31 May. The match was between Hawthorn Hawks and Western Bulldogs. The Bulldogs ran out comfortable victors in front of a near capacity crowd. After this match there have been many calls to upgrade the grounds capaciy.

During 2007, Hawthorn Hawks took on North Melbourne in front of Aurora Stadium's 4th highest crowd of 19,144. In what was a scrappy match, North Melbourne won easily, mainly thanks to Corey Jones'7 goals.

Earlier that year Hawthorn Hawks comfortable deafeated West Coast Eagles on the 26 May, in front of a crowd of 18,122

Record Crowds for other sports

*Rugby union:
**15,457 - Romania v Namibia - 2003 Rugby World Cup (30 October)
*Association football:
**8,061 - Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United - 2007 A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup (16 July)

Due to new safety regulations and the Northern Stand being burnt down the ground's capacity is now only about 20,000.

References

External links

* [http://www.aurorastadiumlaunceston.com.au/ Aurora Stadium Official Site]
*Austadiums|141
* [http://www.tastadiums.8m.com/yorkpark.html History of Aurora Stadium (York Park)]


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