The City of Ballarat has provided its sternest warning yet over the ongoing North Ballarat Sports Club saga by announcing the compulsory acquisition of the freehold title of the Eureka Stadium sports club.
The city’s mayor and chief executive also left the door open for another organisation to take control of the facility and field a team in the VFL if the North Ballarat board looked to exit the state competition.
While the ground and parts of the underground change rooms were previously on crown land, the remainder of the precinct including the gaming and dining rooms and the car park were on the freehold title held by the club.
Mayor Samantha Mclntosh said it was crucial council had full access to the facility for the upcoming AFL game in August and said council did not have confidence in the current board to manage the site.
“We don't and haven’t ever contemplated taking over the club or the business,” Cr Mclntosh said. “But there's been extensive public money go into the facility and it's important that we are able to manage that appropriately.”
The move comes ahead of the club’s annual general meeting on February 21 where the new board will be unveiled.
After the withdrawal of former chairman Peter Wilson’s ticket earlier this month, a new board will be sworn in unopposed.
City of Ballarat chief executive officer Justine Linley said the new board would have to meet a number of requirements in order to secure the lease to the facility, one of which was field a VFL team.
She said handing control of the facility to another organisation willing to field a VFL team “would have to be an option” if North Ballarat pulled out.
“One of the stipulations council will be applying is that council has confidence in whoever takes on that lease once we own the facility,” Ms Linley said.
“They need to be able to field a VFL team and they need to be able to provide access to the facility.”
North Ballarat chief executive Bill Mundy said he understood the council’s reasons for acquiring the facility and looked forward to working with them during the takeover.