THE push to upgrade Ballarat’s Eureka Stadium to an AFL standard and multi-sport precinct is growing, despite the project not receiving funding in this week’s Victorian budget.
AFL clubs including North Melbourne, Melbourne and Collingwood all sought funding from the Baillieu government’s 2012-13 budget but none received commitments due to what the government called “tough economic conditions”.
North Melbourne’s hopes of hosting matches in Ballarat will continue, with the club saying the city remained a key part of the Kangaroo’s long-term future.
Sports Minister Hugh Delahunty said the budget had been shaped by the economic challenges.
“The government’s spending priorities are focused on driving economic growth, generating jobs, improving frontline service delivery and protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
“Funding has not been provided to any AFL clubs but the Victorian government continues to work with sporting clubs and councils to ensure community facilities are upgraded and accessible by all members of the community,” Mr Delahunty said.
He said the City of Ballarat and a consortium of stakeholders were currently finalising plans to utilise the $1 million of funding already provided to the project.
Ballarat City councillor Judy Verlin said the first meeting of a consortium of stakeholders would take place next week, providing the project with further momentum.
“At this stage, there was not a formal submission made to the government so there was no expectation from council’s point of view that it would be funded this year.
“Prior to the election, the proposal centred wholly and solely around the AFL presence. It now is broader and considering a wider precinct approach.”
Cr Verlin said she expected a master plan and detailed economic costings would be prepared by the consortium in coming months.