“The idea is to service Melbourne’s north by getting more people to play sport’’

A NEW sports city will be built in Melbourne’s northern suburbs with a $150 million precinct to combine elite and grassroots competition, research and rehabilitation.

La Trobe University is in the advanced stages of planning a world-class precinct to combine facilities for a wide variety of sports, student accommodation, science labs and office space.

A 60ha site at the university’s Bundoora campus, bordering Preston, has been set aside for the park, which is expected to kick goals globally for Melbourne’s sporting prowess and its reputation.

It is expected to provide 650 new jobs, and support tertiary education for more than 2500 students studying sport science, sport management and sport medicine each year. La Trobe Sports Park will have indoor and outdoor sporting facilities for AFL, soccer, hockey, cricket, netball, volleyball, basketball, badminton and more.

High-performance hubs, space for professional clubs and sporting academies, an eight-court indoor stadium and an exercise science and technology wing will form part of the development.

Office space will be offered to external users, similar to AAMI Park and Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre at Albert Park.

Interstate and overseas athletes and students will be invited to live on campus to do research, take part in events and use facilities to train.

High-density wi-fi, the ability for GPS and wearable sensor technology to be used by elite teams, and a sports analytics laboratory to support coaching, training and competition research will be offered.

The facility will also be big enough to host sporting events such as state and national championships.

Architects will begin work on the project this month. Construction is scheduled to commence next year and be completed by 2019 and fully operational by 2020.

La Trobe Sport Professor Russell Hoye said the state-of-the-art facility would be similar to Casey Fields at Cranbourne East, which has AFL, cricket, netball, tennis, cycling, golf and rugby facilities. However, it would be bigger, and would offer a teaching and research edge.

“The idea is to service Melbourne’s north by getting more people to play sport,’’ he said. “To provide a hub for high-performance sports and to provide a place for high-performance athletes to be educated and to train.’’

The park has been modelled on facilities in the UK, such as Surrey Sports Park and zones at the universities of Birmingham, Durham, Salford and Loughborough.

The growth of women’s sport, such as AFL, will be integrated into the new facility. It will include a residential accommodation building and sporting fields on a zone taking in Plenty Rd, Kingsbury Drive, Waterdale Rd, Crissane Rd and Darebin Creek.

A-League soccer club Melbourne City already uses the university’s Bundoora campus, which is 1½ times the size of the CBD.