The Western Bulldogs are resisting calls by Maribyrnong residents to take steps to ensure their suburb isn’t flooded with pokies.
The AFL club is seeking to offload 70 poker machine licences acquired for the failed $30 million Club Edgewater venture.
Already strained relations between the Bulldogs and developer Prizac turned sour last year after Prizac altered its plans for the Edgewater project to include a dozen residential apartments on a new top floor for the club’s Edgewater Boulevard building, which would have created Australia’s first mixed-use residential gambling venue.
Sharon Schwab, of Residents Against Inappropriate Development In Maribyrnong (RAIDIM), said Edgewater residents had spent seven years fighting to stop a gambling venue from being built in the heart of their neighbourhood.
She said the saga began in 2009 when the Western Bulldogs and AFL “used their power, money and might” to convince authorities that without approval for Club Edgewater, the club would fail financially.
“Seven years on and the Western Bulldogs are thriving, they are a profitable Club with over 35,000 members,” she said.
“By contrast, the potential legacy of the now defunct Club Edgewater for the west can only be described as a dismal disaster.”
RAIDIM wants the Bulldogs to insert a clause into any sale agreement forbidding the machines from being located at 31 Edgewater Boulevard, but the club has declined to make such a commitment.
Bulldogs chief operating officer Michael Quinn said the club was considering its options for clawing back the money poured into the Edgewater project.
“This includes the potential sale of entitlements to other club operators, including operators in the Maribyrnong [area],” he said.
“The Club’s primary focus is on realising maximum value for its investment.”