EXCLUSIVE: Melbourne Heart say they can offer more to AAMI Park than any other tenant as negotiations for the A-League club’s stadium deal intensifies.
AAMI Park - the Swan St Rectangular Football Stadium dubbed "Bubble Dome" for its space-age design - is the preferred home ground of Melbourne Heart.
However protracted negotiations are yet to yield a long-term deal between the A-League franchise and stadium managers MOPT (Melbourne Olympic Parks Trust).
The new A-League club insist signing off on a deal is their number one priority over the next three to four weeks. If not successful, Heart will be forced to take their business elsewhere, most likely Etihad Stadium.
The club points out that they can offer more home games than any other tenant set to play at the 31,000 capacity stadium.
"We will bring at least 15 games [to the ground] with all the other codes playing less or like Victory playing some [games also] at Etihad," Heart CEO Scott Munn told au.fourfourtwo.com.
"So we bring a large volume of games and we're also confident we can bring a large patronage. It's essential that we play all our games there but in saying that if it commercially doesn't stack up then we'll have to go to Etihad, we don't have any choice.
"It's tough, because we are a new club, we're looking for support. We're not looking for a different deal from any other hirers but because they're coming in with history the other franchises and codes.
"All we're saying just as they did in their formative stages is we need some support and that's what we're working with MOPT to ensure we can put in place the long-term building blocks for the viability of the club."
In the bigger picture, only an A-League club can bring the new stadium Asian-wide coverage from playing in the Asian Champions League.
In the case of Victory, Ernie Merrick's men have fallen well short in their two ACL campaigns but Heart, under former Dutch national team and Ajax Amsterdam assistant John van't Schip, could be much better placed tactically to generate success on the continental stage.
And with an excellent on-field recruiting program also in place - including Clint Bolton, Simon Colosimo, John Aloisi and Rutger Worm - Heart would surely fancy their chances of playing ACL football in the coming seasons, perhaps as early as 2012.
Like Adelaide's Hindmarsh stadium, Asia could view our teams in a real football venue rather than a converted AFL ground like Etihad if Heart's AAMI deal is finalised.
Now Munn wants some support to ensure the deal is appropriate to a new franchise's long-term viability.
He added: "It's not good if we're not around in 20 years. So the key is a stadium arrangement that ensures the long-term viability.
"That's fundamentally the principle in the negotiations."
Melbourne Victory are expected to reveal details of their new deal with AAMI Park for next season at a press conference later today.