A corporate renaming of Simonds Stadium threatens to again overlook the historical and cultural significance of its site in Kardinia Park, according to a Geelong Aboriginal elder.
Reports this week that the name would change to GMHBA Stadium in 2018 came as an unwelcome surprise to David ‘Uncle Dave’ Tournier.
“I thought that given our good relationship with the club – the Aboriginal flag now flies full-time from the stadium – they might have consulted us,” he told the Indy.
“Because of modern times and funding they’ve got to use those corporate names.
“But for me and several older people in the community, not only Aboriginal people, it will always be Kardinia Park.”
The stadium site was once an “important meeting place” for Aborigines, Mr Tournier said.
The site was used to exchange goods, conduct marriages, resolve disputes and eat in groups, he explained.
The Aboriginal word ‘kardinia’ meant ‘sunrise’, he said.
Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative indigenous protected areas project co-ordinator Trevor ‘Reg’ Abrahams said “many don’t seem to care” about the site’s history.
“These names convey bland sponsorship messages from big sponsors rather than meaningful messages about Geelong’s history.
“I know that, personally, the name Simonds or GMHBA doesn’t really mean anything to me.
“The landscape has really changed with property developments and I think a lot of meaning has been lost over the years but I think times are changing.
“A lot of tourists and the local community like to see things with an Aboriginal name.”
Geelong Cats media manager Kevin Diggerson said the club held the naming rights to the stadium.
“Our club’s very respectful of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the stadium.
“We fly both flags, hold a welcome-to-country ceremony on large occasions and the acknowledgement of country is played at home games on the big screen as part of the RAP activity,” Mr Diggerson said.
“The naming rights of the stadium falls within the club’s rights as part of its lease with City of Greater Geelong.”
Mr Diggerson said he could not “confirm nor deny” the reported name change to GMHBA Stadium.
Originally published at Geelong Independent.