St Kilda will not be budging from its presence at Seaford, despite the state government pledging $8 million to fund a redevelopment of the Saints' former training base at Moorabbin.
Former Fremantle coach and now Sports Minister Damian Drum unveiled the Liberal government's plan on Saturday, one that paves the way for a stand-alone St Kilda reserves team to play its home games at the venue when it re-enters the VFL in 2016.
New Saints chief executive Matt Finnis expressed his club's excitement at the announcement. "For years St Kilda fans flocked to Linton Street to see the Saints in action and it is incredibly exciting that a revitalised Moorabbin will now play host to a new generation of footballers and their families," he said.
The refurbished Moorabbin Community Reserve will also serve in housing the Sandringham Dragons TAC Cup club, the South Football League, and the South Metro Junior Football League.
Despite making the commitment to Moorabbin, the Saints made it clear they would be remaining at Seaford, despite long-standing conjecture over the future of the club's current home.
"These developments at Moorabbin do not impact the club’s base at Linen House Centre, Seaford, where we enjoy first-class training facilities and a strong relationship with the City of Frankston," St Kilda said in a statement on its website.
The Saints ended their 46-year stay at Moorabbin in 2010, following an impasse between the club and the Kingston Council over poker machines.
However, the move to Seaford proved a controversial one. There have been concerns about the long-term viability of St Kilda's residence at the Linen House Centre amid reports of player discontent about what for many is a lengthy drive to Seaford.
St Kilda hard man and 2005 best and fairest winner Steven Baker suggested the move to Seaford had been a disaster. "I think Seaford was the worst move in the history of St Kilda Football Club; it could have cost us a flag," he said. "Moorabbin is our spiritual home, and we were a different side when we trained there."
Adding to the confusion have been the Saints' recent moves to re-establish a home at the Junction Oval, the club's home ground prior to the 1965 relocation to Moorabbin.
Fairfax Media reported last month the government was in discussions with Cricket Victoria and the AFL about a potential redevelopment of the venue, which would see it house both St Kilda and Cricket Victoria.
The AFL has an interest in seeing Cricket Victoria find a new home, as it would allow the league to begin playing matches at the MCG earlier in the season. Under the current arrangement, Cricket Victoria holds the rights to the MCG until after the completion of the Sheffield Shield final at the end of March.
Homes in each of St Kilda, Moorabbin and Seaford would be aligned with the club's stated strategic aim of developing a presence throughout the bayside area, as outlined at the Saints' season launch in March.
Current Saints ruckman Tom Hickey claimed mid-week that the club's players were not perturbed by having to train at Seaford. "The facilities are really first-class and all the boys are really happy there," he said. "Whatever happens, happens in the future, but at the moment we're at Seaford and everyone's really comfortable there."
St Kilda previously fielded a reserves team in the VFL, during the first season following the merger of the VFL and AFL reserves competition in 2000. The Saints played their home games that season at Moorabbin.
In 2001, the club aligned itself with Springvale, an arrangement that continued until the end of 2008 and spanned a period in which the Scorpions moved to Casey.
In 2009, St Kilda and Melbourne swapped VFL alignments, with the Saints beginning what is now a six-year partnership with Sandringham.
The Saints' decision to have their own reserves team in the VFL continues a recent trend in the AFL. Footscray, Richmond, Essendon and Adelaide have all ceased alignments with state league clubs over the past two seasons.
The story Saints staying in Seaford despite government funding at Moorabbin first appeared on WA Today.