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Caulfield Racecourse unveils $570m sports, entertainment precinct plan

Caulfield Racecourse will be transformed into a sporting and entertainment precinct more than 10 times the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground under a $570 million redevelopment plan.

The plan will create one of the largest open public spaces in Melbourne’s south and will feature a large concert space, an indoor sports complex and up to seven sporting fields in the large space within the perimeter of the racetrack, linked by tunnels to areas outside the track.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Caulfield Racecourse redevelopment.

Racecourse managers hope the outdoor events space in the middle of the track will rival the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Caulfield could host about 15,000 people, compared to the music bowl’s 10,000.

“It will transform Caulfield,” said the racecourse trust’s chair, Sam Almaliki, adding the venue will be turned into one of Asia’s premier racing tracks and recreational precincts.

Two sports hubs will be created within the track as part of the 15-year vision. One will include natural turf surfaces for sports such as cricket and soccer and the other will have synthetic pitches for sports such as hockey, plus an outdoor gym and picnic areas.

Walking, running and cycling trails will be created alongside the racetrack, while gardens, a skatepark, meeting rooms, open spaces for markets and off-leash areas will also be developed.

The redevelopment will feature walking and cycling trails, restaurants and affordable housing.

About $570 million is required for the project, of which $285 million has been committed by the Melbourne Racing Club.

The racecourse trust is negotiating with federal, state and local governments over their contributions. The racing club is partly funding the project through the sale of Sandown racecourse, but Dandenong mayor Angela Long has expressed opposition to the Sandown plan.

The redevelopment will be launched on Wednesday night by Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who said it was a milestone in the racecourse becoming a “truly inclusive” open space.

“I look forward to seeing the plan come to fruition and thank the trust for their continued efforts in promoting Caulfield Racecourse Reserve as an accessible, inclusive public space for the community to enjoy,” she said.

Racecourse trust chair Sam Almaliki says the redevelopment will transform Caulfield.

Major construction work will probably begin in 2023 when horse race training relocates away from Caulfield. Before 2023, work will take place to improve accessibility and create public spaces for events such as markets.

Affordable housing, which may be built above a community and indoor sports centre along the racetrack perimeter, could be stipulated to be for university students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds or front-line health workers. The track is near Monash University’s Caulfield campus.

Under the plan, Caulfield will host night racing on a second track. Fine-dining restaurants and pubs will be built around the grandstand.

Mr Almaliki said he believed Caulfield would become known as one of the best racing tracks in the Asia-Pacific region, not just Australia.

“It will be a great entertainment precinct where you can go and see a concert and experience great dining with your family,” he said.

“It will be the centre of community life – a community and events destination of state significance with an enduring reputation as a premier thoroughbred horse racing venue.”

The racecourse trust hopes the precinct will be as active at night as in the day. Markets, racing and an open-air cinema will operate in the evening.

The Glen Eira City Council area has the lowest proportion of open public space of any council area, with neighbouring Stonnington the second worst.

Mr Almaliki said the development would go a long way to fulfilling demand from local sporting groups.

A business case is being developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, in conjunction with Glen Eira City Council and the state government, to detail the return on investment for governments. The Andrews government invested $1 million in 2018 to help the trust develop the renewal plan.

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