A campaign is brewing in Ballarat calling on both Victorian political parties to commit before the state election to funding a multimillion-dollar netball and basketball sporting hub.
The campaign is being spearheaded by Ballarat Basketball chief executive officer Peter Eddy who said Ballarat’s current home of basketball and netball, the Minerdome, no longer met requirements for major regional, state and national activities.
Last year, the City of Ballarat released its Ballarat Regional Capital Plan which prioritised $37 million of projects for a major Ballarat events precinct including a 6000-seat AFL stadium, a $9 million indoor basketball and netball stadium and an $8 million sports house.
Earlier this year, concept plans were drawn for the proposed $21 million Wendouree Sports and Events Centre expansion.
Ballarat Basketball and the Ballarat Indoor Sports Group presented the designs to government and Opposition representatives in April in a bid to secure funding to expand the centre as part of the $37 million Ballarat major events precinct.
But to date, neither party has committed to funding the project in it entirety.
The six-court complex would be located next to the current WSEC in Norman Street, providing eight courts on the one site – twice the capacity of the Minerdome.
“To us, it is essential that is development is funded,” Mr Eddy said. “The development will guarantee that our indoor sports can continue to grow and prosper and, equally as important, we can continue to retain existing major event opportunities that provide a proven health and economic benefits to the region.”
An independent study into the viability of the project was recently conducted by Simply Great Leisure, a lifestyle, leisure and community organisation.
The report found Ballarat Netball’s senior representative team, The Pride, did not have a home court in Ballarat which was compliant with national design standards.
“As such, home games and national level games are generally overlooked for this region,” the report said.
The report also stated the Ballarat Basketball Association serviced not only Ballarat but western Victoria and the Central Highlands area and suffered from a chronic shortage of suitable facilities.
The Ballarat Basketball Association caters for more than 3300 basketball players playing in 441 teams. There are also 225 junior teams, ranging in age from 8 years to 18 years and more than 50 teams in primary school competition in the region.
Weekly netball competitions cater for more than 500 players for 35 weeks each year at the WSEC.
Ballarat also provides a regional centre for more than 3500 regional players.