Council could be forced to fork out more for Mars Stadium Precinct

North Ballarat Football Club president John Nevett
North Ballarat Football Club president John Nevett

Ballarat City Council may be forced to fork out more money for the Mars Stadium Precinct after it failed to  acquire the entire site earlier this year.   

In February council staged a $5.5 million compulsory takeover of the freehold title owned by the North Ballarat Football Club, which comprises the majority of the building which houses the bistro and gaming room.

However in 2014 the club re-signed a 21-year Crown Lease with state government over a 970 square metre portion of land which includes part of the main building and the Mars Stadium oval. 

Related coverage

Council had been the lease manager up until 2013 when the government began proceedings to sell the small piece of land, however a sale was never completed. 

The Courier understands council was unaware the separate lease was still in place at the time of acquisition.

A Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning spokesperson said “DELWP has advised the club that it believes the lease should be surrendered, returning the site to DELWP to enable the sale to the City of Ballarat”. 

However DELWP confirmed the government is unable to terminate the lease without the consent of the club. 

“It’s entirely appropriate for the building owner to also own the leased land,” the statement read. 

Football fans at the AFL game between the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide at Mars Stadium in August.

Football fans at the AFL game between the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide at Mars Stadium in August.

North Ballarat Football Club president John Nevett said the club would expect to be financially compensated for forfeiting the lease and would also seek certainty around its position as the facility’s tenant into the future.

He said the club would also look to define its right to operate during times when council required access to the facility, such as during AFL games.

Council was due to put precinct lease out to tender earlier this year, which could have resulted in the club losing its tenancy. 

“We want a resolution to the compulsory acquisition and we want the best outcome for members of the club in terms of our legal entitlements across the precinct,” Mr Nevett said. 

The club is also expected to submit its own valuation for the freehold land council acquired earlier in April which could lead to further compensation. 

The club is also yet to pay any rent despite not owning the property for about five months.

Ballarat City Council representatives declined to be interviewed and refused to answer any questions surrounding the acquisition. 

Below you will find the questions The Courier put to the City of Ballarat. Council refused to answer any of the questions.

  • Was the Ballarat City Council aware part of the Stadium Precinct was covered by a separate crown lease agreement between the football club and the state government?
  • Was this portion of land factored into the $5.5 million compensation paid to the club?
  • What measures are the Ballarat City Council undertaking to gain control of that portion of the land?
  • Has the Ballarat City Council received any rent from the North Ballarat Football Club since the acquisition?
  • Does the current acquisition give the council access to the change rooms?
  • Does the current acquisition cover the netball courts?