Taxpayers will fork out $225 million to keep the AFL grand final in Melbourne for decades as part of a rich sport cash splash designed to boost Victoria's hosting rights, as other states up the ante.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the near-$475 million election-year package will bring benefits for employment, health and tourism, and admitted recent interstate stadium upgrades served as motivation.
Etihad Stadium and surrounds will benefit to the tune of $225 million, in a deal with the AFL that means Melbourne will keep the grand final for the next 40 years and the Brownlow Medal for at least a decade.
"The AFL is not a charity. They are not going to lock in the grand final in Victoria unless they are supported," Mr Andrews told reporters on Friday.
The stadium will be redeveloped for rectangular sports like soccer and rugby, its women's change facilities will be improved and there will be guaranteed access for other codes and major events.
The deal also gives the Melbourne Cricket Club Trust certainty for a major redevelopment of the MCG.
Money will come out of the 2018-19 state budget, alongside $241.6 million for suburban and regional grounds.
"This is a total package that benefits so many Victorians, in jobs, in economic opportunity, in health and wellbeing," Mr Andrews said.
As the Labor government looks to hold power at the November state election, the premier cited similar interstate big-budget sport stadium spends.
NSW has dedicated more than a billion dollars for Sydney stadium upgrades, there's Perth's new $1.6 billion Optus Stadium, while Queensland will benefit from Commonwealth Games infrastructure and the Adelaide Oval is due for an overhaul.
"Other states are building very big stadiums and they're building them with an expectation that they would be able to pinch major events from Victoria," Mr Andrews said.
The Victorian package hands women's football a stack of cash, including $20 million to redevelop Ikon Park into the home of AFLW.
The budget also provides $60 million for community sporting grants and $5 million for Community Sports Infrastructure Loans.
Shadow Treasurer Michael O'Brien questioned why junior clubs should have to seek a loan when millions were being spent on Etihad Stadium.
The coalition, if elected, would redirect the $225 million.
"Investing in junior, community grassroots sport is where that money should go," Mr O'Brien told reporters.
Institute of Public Affairs director John Roskam also called for the $225 million to be spent at a grassroots level, labelling the announcement "outrageous corporate cronyism".
"The AFL had a net profit last year of $48 million," he said in a statement.
"The AFL doesn't need a cent more money from Victorian taxpayers."
The Greens welcomed the boost to women's sport and community facilities.
Mr Andrews also announced a $64.6 million upgrade to the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Friday.
The funding will go toward more courts, a new indoor hockey facility and a high-performance gym.