Councillor Amy Johnson slams Mars Stadium cost

Ballarat City councillor Amy Johnson has written a scathing attack on the state government’s $15 million contribution to the Mars Stadium development.

Among the criticisms was the likely return on investment, with the stadium to host 11,000 spectators and no guarantee of games beyond 2018.

The Western Bulldogs will play Port Adelaide at the stadium on August 19, with two more games planned next year.

Cr Amy Johnson's blog slamming the Mars Stadium development.

Cr Amy Johnson's blog slamming the Mars Stadium development.

Cr Johnson said she had always been critical of the project.

“I have said on a number of occasions that I don’t think it is a good way to spend $15 million,” she said.

“While it is great to see investment in the Ballarat region, I do think that $15 million could have been better spent.”

The Facebook post said Begonia Festival cost council $330,000, but drew 64,719 to the city in 2017.

It will take all three scheduled AFL games to reach the same crowd numbers.

Wendouree MP Sharon Knight said Cr Johnson had been hypocritical to take part in media photos at the stadium, but not support the project.

“One minute she has her picture in the paper up there and is happy about it, then the next she is attacking it,” she said.

“I think a picture says a thousand words and it confused me.

“I have a bit more optimism and a bit more vision for Ballarat than what I think she does.”

Charlie, 5, with Cr Amy Johnson and Western Bulldogs premiership player Josh Dunkley at Mars Stadium in July. Cr Johnson is also a Bulldogs supporter. Picture: Kate Healy

Charlie, 5, with Cr Amy Johnson and Western Bulldogs premiership player Josh Dunkley at Mars Stadium in July. Cr Johnson is also a Bulldogs supporter. Picture: Kate Healy

Cr Johnson said her involvement at a press conference with Western Bulldogs players in July was to support council’s sponsorship arrangement with the club, not the stadium.

“My understanding is that we as council have always sponsored an AFL football team, including North Melbourne, and part of the package is that they come here for community camps,” she said,

Cr Johnson was involved with the press conference to promote a competition for a junior Bulldogs mascot.

Mars Stadium created 38 construction jobs, with 55 workers on site every day, including 15 apprentices.

All up 3000 people worked 82,500 hours on the redevelopment.

Ballarat City mayor Samantha McIntosh said councillors were entitled to express their view, but the new stadium would draw 21,000 people to the city each year.

“The project clearly delivers a major economic boost to Ballarat,” she said.