BALLARAT risks slipping further behind in its standing to host major indoor events in Victoria as competition for funding heats up in the federal election race.
Down the Midland Highway, Geelong Basketball has upped the ante in its bid for a greater Liberal and Labor funding commitment for a proposed new Waurn Ponds-based stadium in the marginal seat of Corangamite.
The project was last week extended to become a $25 million facility housing nine indoor netball courts, including a 2000-seat showcourt and more than 7000-square metres for event space for larger events, tournament and exhibition potential. This is to complement Geelong Basketball’s existing base The Arena in North Geelong.
A $16.5 million stadium redevelopment is already underway in nearby regional Bendigo to create a 4000-seat show court conversion among three new indoor courts added to Bendigo Stadium’s existing seven courts. The centre’s 12 outdoor netball courts will also be upgraded in the process.
Werribee’s new $47 million Eagle Stadium will be complete next month with 12 indoor courts, four outdoor courts and a new state-of-the-art gymnasium. Netball Victoria last month awarded the stadium the state netball titles for the next two years.
Basketball Australia this year declared Ballarat venues were no longer of a standard to tender for national events. Since hosting Commonwealth Games matches in 2006, Ballarat has hosted seven national level basketball tournaments. Basketball events, including national under-18 championships, injected $4.7 million into Ballarat’s economy last year.
Ballarat Basketball and the City of Ballarat remain lobbying hard for $10 million federal funding that would complete the $24 million Ballarat Sports and Events Centre project. It is the difference between four extra courts and six, and a 1500-seat show court and 3000 seat arena.
A joint application is submitted under the third round of National Strong Regions Fund grants, but Ballarat Basketball is calling for attention in the federal election race, to be on a level playing field with its neighbours.
“It’s not just a matter of keeping up, it’s about getting our fair share of the sports and events market,” Mr Eddy said. “We want a really good functional facility...we’re getting a great AFL-standard stadium, our soccer stadium is attracting big events and we need an indoor stadium that can do the same, It’s another piece of the puzzle for Ballarat.”
Mr Eddy said a bigger venue and bigger events creates more jobs, including university internships, tourism and community programs for western Victoria. And importantly, the full project allowed more players on court.
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