The Canberra A-League bid has started searching for suitable locations for a team training base to form part of its final proposal to secure an expansion licence to join the competition at the end of next year.
It's understood bid officials have spoken to the AIS about availability and use of training fields at the Bruce campus as well as investigating options for a commercial headquarters.
The plans for a training base will form an important part of the bid to be submitted by August 31, while negotiations have started with the ACT government about securing a deal to play games at Canberra Stadium.
More than 2500 people have signed up as foundation members for the Canberra A-League side and the bid team have launched a call-to-arms to recruit volunteers to give them a physical presence in the capital.
The volunteers will attend Capital Football matches and community events to sign more members to help the bid reach its 5000 target within the next six weeks.
The Canberra bid is based on a "50 plus one" ownership model similar to the one used in Germany and is designed to give members greater input into how the club is run.
Bid organisers will delay choosing a team name, colours and logo until it finds out if it is successful, but decisions on where the team will train and where the head office will be have to be fast-tracked.
The former "A-League4Canberra" bid investigated training options at the AIS and the University of Canberra 10 years ago.
The AIS may be a short-term option, but the long-term plans for the campus remain unclear. It's understood the campus will be downsized in the coming years, which would impact the availability of soccer fields.
"One aspect is where will play and we are looking at [Canberra Stadium], so locking in those sort of aspects is a large part of the current process we're going through," said bid organiser Bede Gahan.
"We're confident we will be able to come to a favourable deal in terms of that [stadium] perspective.
"In terms of a training facility, we have had discussions with the AIS in terms of the availability of their training [facilities] and we're looking at a commercial space for the location of the club. But there's nothing concrete there."
The government would be watching the bid closely given ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said plans to build a new stadium in Civic would hinge on securing A-League content for the venue.
The government has delayed any talks about building a $350 million facility in Civic until the AIS details its vision for the future of its major assets and land at Bruce.
It's likely the government will buy Canberra Stadium, the AIS Arena and the AIS pool as part of a deal to downsize the AIS land footprint.
Downsizing the AIS could mean reducing the number of rectangular fields and would impact training availability for a Canberra side in future A-League competitions.
The Canberra bid has gained momentum and is working to build community support and engagement to show the FFA a team in Canberra is financially viable.
"We're asking volunteers to help us with the membership drive, to get out in the community to get people to sign up," Gahan said.
"It ties into the community club access. The community has a huge role to play in the success of this club and we want to give everyone a chance to be involved to help us get across the line.
"We're about halfway to our membership target at the moment. It's a pretty strong showing to start thing and we're relatively happy with how things are tracking."
Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.
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