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Manuka Oval renamed for footy season

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For generations of Canberra sports fans and players, it's always been Manuka Oval.

Eight decades of the city's cricket and footy heritage has played itself out in the hallowed arena proudly bearing the name of the next door suburb (the oval is in Griffith).

But that was until the GWS Giants blew in from Sydney with their sponsors on Friday to declare the stadium would henceforth be known as "StarTrack Oval."

Residents of nearby leafy suburbs shouldn't worry about unsightly signage; the AFL outfit's two-year naming rights deal with the Australia Post subsidiary only applies during the footy season.

Sports Minister Andrew Barr's office explained, after the Giants and StarTrack sealed their deal with a handshake, that the change only applies between the opening bounce of the pre-season NAB Cup and the end of home and away season.

No need to worry just yet about finals footy.


And although the fledgling outfit will pocket the vast bulk of the undisclosed "commercial-in confidence" sponsorship fee, Oval owners the ACT taxpayers were reassured they would enjoy "a small percentage" of the action.

The "modest but appropriate" fee for the Giants comes on top of the $26 million the government will pay the Greater Western Sydney over 10 years to play three games each in Canberra each season.

GWS has made no secret of its plans to use most of the funds to fill its war chest for the battle of the codes in Sydney's west.

The club's chief executive David Matthews said the sponsorship showed the confidence sponsors were starting to have in the club but he conceded that some locals might be unhappy with the name change.

''There's going to be some sort of sensitivities, but the reality is this is another example of corporate Australia wanting to invest in Canberra,'' he said. ''We want to project Canberra across Australia, we see the Giants as a vehicle to bring tourism to Canberra, we see the Giants as a vehicle in the national AFL competition as raising the awareness of the quality of the facilities here.

''It's investments like this that are going to continue to help us partner with the ACT government, develop this oval into what it should become.''

Australia Post chief executive, StarTrack chairman and Carlton Football Club board member Ahmed Fahour said as a government-owned company the ''modest-but-appropriate'' sponsorship was effectively from the Australian people.