RSEA Safety Park
|Former names||Moorabbin Oval|
|Location||32-60 Linton Street, Moorabbin, Victoria|
|Owner||St Kilda Saints Football Club Ltd (since 1964-5)|
|Operator||St Kilda Saints Football Club Ltd|
|St Kilda Football Club (VFL/AFL) (1965–) |
Melbourne Reds, ABL (1994-1999).
Moorabbin Oval, also known by its sponsorship name of RSEA Safety Park, is an Australian Rules Football ground in the city of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia at Linton Street in the suburb of Moorabbin.
The ground was most notable as the home of the St Kilda Football Club in the Australian Football League, serving as its home ground for VFL/AFL matches from 1965 until 1992, and as its primary training and administrative base from 1965 until 2010. In 2018 the ground was once again reopened as the primary training and administrative base for St Kilda.
In 1951, the growing City of Moorabbin committed to developing a fenced football venue which was up to Victorian Football Association standards to be used by the Moorabbin Football Club. The strong club had been admitted from the Federal District League to the VFA in 1951, and its continued admission was contingent on the council developing Moorabbin Oval for its use. The venue became one of the highest quality venues in the Association, and was noted for having the largest playing surface in the Association, similar in size to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Starting from 1960, the Moorabbin Council worked actively to bring VFL football to the venue. After it was found that the VFL was unlikely to admit the Moorabbin Football Club as a new team, the council began negotiating for existing VFL clubs, many of which were dissatisfied with their home grounds at the time, to move to Moorabbin. In 1963, both Richmond and Fitzroy were approached, and then in early 1964, the council came to an agreement with the St Kilda Football Club. St Kilda relocated its training, playing and administrative base from the St Kilda Cricket Club Ground (the "Junction Oval") to Moorabbin Oval at the end of the 1964 season.
The council invested a further £100,000 to bring the venue to VFL standards and expand its capacity to 50,000. The St Kilda Football Club signed a 75-year - £5,000 per year (initially) deal for the ground with an up front lump sum payment, under which it became ground manager, and committed to invest £120,000 in establishing a licensed social club and to invest £375,000 for ground improvements over the first 45 years of the deal (a period which expired at approximately the end of 2009). The Moorabbin Football Club, then the defending VFA premiers, supported the move and attempted an amalgamation with St Kilda, actions which resulted in its suspension from the VFA. A new grandstand was finished before the 1965 VFL season. St Kilda FC also agreed to lease parkland belonging to the local council on the outer side of the ground outside the clubs property - so that if further spectator seating or carpark developments occurred there would be more room for the constructions.
The St Kilda Football Club completed its financial obligation to make ground improvements prior to the end of 2009, including redeveloping the G.G. Huggins Stand into the main training and administration base for the club when home games at Moorabbin ceased in 1992. The 75-year deal precludes Moorabbin Oval from being sold until approximately 2039.
St Kilda Football Club's move to Moorabbin Oval was seen as highly successful. In its first season at the new ground the club played in front of capacity crowds. The Saints' first ever home game at Moorabbin attracted a record crowd of 51,370 against Collingwood in Round 1, 1965, a record that was never broken. When it was first used, Moorabbin Oval was the third largest ground by capacity in metropolitan Melbourne after the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Princes Park; it was relegated to fourth place following the opening of VFL Park in 1970.
St Kilda ceased playing home games at Moorabbin Oval after 1992 and began playing home fixtures at Waverley Park, as part of the AFL's grounds rationalization strategy of the early 1990s; the club received $430,000 upfront and $120,000 per year for three years from the AFL as part of the change, which helped to clear some of the club's debt. St Kilda's final home game for premiership points at Moorabbin Oval was the Round 20 match on 1 August 1992, an 18-point win over the Fitzroy Lions in front of 27,736.
The St Kilda Football Club played 254 matches for premiership points at Moorabbin Oval between 1965 and 1992, with an average attendance of 21,232. In the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s, when St Kilda suffered form severe financial hardship and had generally weak results, the ground was often quite muddy due to ground management issues including security. Other organisations who did not own their home base or stadium took exception at St Kilda FCs "groundbreaking" deal to buy Moorabbin Oval in the 1960s with the 75 year payment deal and attempts to force St Kilda out of Moorabbin Oval by those who claimed to take offence at the club ownership of it were common - particularly after St Kilda won its first Premiership in 1966.
|St Kilda Football Club Match Record at Moorabbin Oval|
|Venue||Played||Won||Lost||Drawn||Most Recent Match|
|1992 AFL Premiership Season Round 20|
|1965 to 1992|
After home games ceased being played at Moorabbin Oval, the club maintained its training and administrative base at the ground. The ground was extensively renovated to provide training, administration and entertainment facilities within the Huggins Stand and a heritage museum in the Drake Stand. The G.G. Huggins Stand had three internal floors that contained player rooms, a fully equipped player gymnasium, football department meeting rooms, administration offices, a membership department, gaming room and bar, the Trevor Barker Room (a function room with a bar), club shop, trophy and memorabilia display areas and other facilities.
In 2007, the relationship between the club and the City of Kingston deteriorated, and St Kilda announced that it would move its primary administrative and training base away from Moorabbin. A new facility was built at Belvedere Park in Seaford, approximately 21 kilometers south of Moorabbin; the development was a St Kilda Football Club development in conjunction with the Frankston City Council, the State Government Of Victoria and the AFL. St Kilda moved to the Seaford base after the 2010 season; but, the club still manages Moorabbin Oval and used it as a retail, museum, entertainment and occasional training venue.
Recently renamed RSEA Park - St Kilda Saints FC LTD's Moorabbin venue was approved for a 30 million dollar redevelopment financed by the State Government, St Kilda Saints Football Club LTD, Australian Football League, Kingston Council and local football leagues. St Kilda returned to Moorabbin Oval as its primary training and administrative base in March 2018.
The venue will also serve as the home ground for the Sandringham Dragons and the Southern Football League and other local community clubs and leagues. Construction of stage 1 is continuing - with the final part of stage one due for completion in November 2018. As part of the upgrade, the Drake Stand and G. G. Huggins stand are totally removed.
As part of the deal the leased parkland outside the property borderline on the outer side of the ground was released back to the local council, with St Kilda FC no longer required to maintain rental payments.
RSEA Park will undergo a second stage of development after a state government grant of 13 million dollars was publicly announced on 13 April to develop a Community Health & Wellbeing Centre, second indoor sports hall, AFL standard rooms for the clubs 2020 AFLW team entry along with AFLW administration base and a 1000 seat grandstand.  Work is to commence on the stage 2 development sometime after the completion of the rest of stage 1 in November 2018.
Weddings Parties Anything references the Oval in their song A Decent Cup of Coffee