By Mitch Guy
THE Bass Coast Shire Council has confirmed it will not seek funding for a new indoor stadium at Wonthaggi as part of the State Government’s Better Indoor Stadiums Fund.
The $22 million fund aims to provide sporting organisations with funding to build or upgrade indoor stadiums.
Campaigners for the ‘Build It Now – Indoor Stadium for Wonthaggi’ have been buoyed by the recent announcement of potential funding.
The only problem is that local councils must apply for the funding, and match up to $3 million in funding dollar for dollar, which the Bass Coast Shire Council is unable to commit to.
Despite the desperate need for a stadium now, Bass Coast Shire Council CEO Paul Buckley said council’s current position and long-term financial plan identifies upgraded aquatic facilities at the Bass Coast Aquatic and Leisure Centre as one of the highest priorities for major recreational facility expenditure.
This project also relies on funding support from State and/or Federal Governments.
The masterplan for the Bass Coast Aquatic and Leisure Centre includes four stages: Stage 1 – Aquatics; Stage 2 – Indoor Courts; Stage 3 – Program Rooms/Gym; Stage 4 – Additional Indoor Courts.
“Council’s financial contribution to Stage 1 under the current long-term financial plan will not be available until the 2021/22 financial year and therefore, council will not be in a position to apply for State and Federal funding until that time,” Mr Buckley said.
“We’re not in a position to apply for the funding any earlier due to current budgetary constraints.”
Leader of the ‘Build It Now – Indoor Stadium for Wonthaggi’ group and President of the Wonthaggi Basketball Association, Cath Garnham said plans for a stadium need to be fast-tracked, with dwindling basketball numbers due to a lack of adequate facilities.
“The shire is saying youth feel disengaged and want to be part of something, then why not build this stadium?” she said.
“There’s a correlation between what it costs to fund this stadium and what it costs in police resources to deal with youths.
“We need to give the youth something to do.”
The stadium would not only benefit the basketball association, with plans to include various sporting groups including netball, volleyball, badminton, indoor futsal and indoor cricket.
A new stadium could also be used as an entertainment complex with the potential for blue light discos and other events, as well as being used as an evacuation centre.
Ms Garnham is concerned that the issue is not high on the council’s priority list.
And the CEO’s response gave her cause for alarm.
“We’ve been trying to push them [council] to make us a higher priority,” she said.
“We’ve come up with a concept plan, and we’ve got lots of support from lots of other sporting groups, schools and key government figures.”
“It would provide a significant boost to the local economy.
“A major tournament in Shepparton provided a $2.6 million boost to the economy. I reckon most of our shops in Wonthaggi would be happy with $2,500.”
To show your support towards the ‘Build It Now – Indoor Stadium for Wonthaggi’ campaign visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Builditnoworitsgameover.