Crucial to keep watch on rival stadium play | From the Press Box with Melanie Whelan

FUTURE: Juniors like Rush under-14 basketballer Gemma Amoore will benefit from increased court space for training, matches and tournaments in a fully developed BSEC. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

FUTURE: Juniors like Rush under-14 basketballer Gemma Amoore will benefit from increased court space for training, matches and tournaments in a fully developed BSEC. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

HAVE you seen what is unfolding up the road?

Construction is all but complete outside for Bendigo Stadium and the interior for a 4000-seat show-court is well underway.

Ballarat Sports and Events Centre was somewhat unexpectedly delivered a $10 million grant early this week to complete  a full redevelopment project, rather than just the partial works that were about to get started.

It is important to know what is going on in the wider neighbourhood. Yes, partly to compete for major events. Most importantly, to really understand what is possible.

There were those in Ballarat who have scoffed at dogged persistence of Ballarat Basketball and its indoor sports partners in chasing a further $10 million for so long. They questioned the need when the project already had $14 million in the bag from state and council to get started.

Likely, most of these people have never had to juggle late night basketball matches or squad training sessions dispersed across the city. This funding will add in two extra courts.

Look to Werribee where Eagle Stadium has 12 indoor courts and it is not uncommon to have basketball matches on the floor alongside Ultimate’s flying discs.

Ballarat’s expansion is not just about alleviating court demand, but about creating space for other sports to flourish: Ultimate, martial arts, hockey-like floorball and European handball have already been touted as competition possibilities.

University of Third Age is also exploring a chance to develop its active classes for a growing mass of semi-retirees and retirees taking up their classes, with potential for academic pursuits in lecture rooms that double for elite team analysis meetings.

There is an increasing global push to get more people active and moving for improved physical, social and mental health. 

Offering diversity means more options to entice people and modern facilities will be a key selling point.

Modern facilities has been curbing Ballarat’s event progress for awhile now, yet perhaps felt most acutely in knock-backs from major sporting teams who have been keen to bring their games to Ballarat. Only, we can no longer meet elite team demands, including the Australian women’s basketball team, due to fading and inadequate facilities.

Even Bendigo has hit walls for hosting a Women’s National Basketball League final when the Spirit home was initially deemed incapable of holding a 3000-strong crowd plus broadcast space.

ATTENTION: Sovereigns' home arena will get an upgrade. Extra funding creates more courts and a bigger show-court arena to bid for more elite netball. Picture: Kate Healy

ATTENTION: Sovereigns' home arena will get an upgrade. Extra funding creates more courts and a bigger show-court arena to bid for more elite netball. Picture: Kate Healy

Elite matches are vital for pathways and inspiration for athletes of all ages.

Sovereigns chairman Bill Mundy told Press Box even a chance to leverage more state league netball home games would help re-establish a feeling the club represented western Victoria, just by being there and showing what they do more often.

In the big scheme of things, major matches will be special editions. Ultimately, this stadium is for the community.

We must look to progress in places like Bendigo and Werribee as a reminder to not just be content with this latest extra funding. We look to see where we can grow and adapt next.

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