LABOR candidate and Ballarat MP Catherine King has put into play a $5 million pledge to the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre on Wednesday. This is the first major funding promise for the city, from any party, during the election race.
The BSEC project has been lobbying for $10 million for a fully redeveloped stadium.
The Labor Party’s commitment will allow the project to develop a 3000-seat showcourt, an extra competition court (five courts in total), with catering facilities, administration offices, an elite teams base and functional community space.
Liberal Party candidate Sarah Wade is yet to confirm if the Liberals will support the transformational project.
Basketball Ballarat and the City of Ballarat still have a live application for a federal grant under National Stronger Regions Fund.
Ms King had discussions with Basketball Ballarat chief executive officer Peter Eddy last week on what would be a workable amount to lift the project from a good regional venue to a competitive, national-standard facility.
“I wouldn’t have made commitment unless Peter said $5 million would be of benefit to project,” Ms King said. “Frankly, I believe this stadium deserves bi-partisan support. Ballarat has made application after application to try and get this one over the line.”
Mr Eddy said while the NSRF bid was under consideration, the aim had been to garner support from all political parties before the July 2 election. He said the $5 million promise added validation to the vision.
“This is for the future. While we want to fix a chronic shortage of indoor courts right now, the main thing is we need to build for the future instead of just patching – we’ve done that for 30 or 40 years now in Ballarat,” Mr Eddy said. “…We deserve this.”
Liberal candidate for Ballarat Sarah Wade slammed the promise as false hope.
“It is clear that Catherine King and Labor have no credible way to pay for, or deliver, their promises,” Ms Wade said. “In contrast, a re-elected Turnbull Liberal Government will make sure our commitments are delivered because we’ll ensure better budget management.”
Stage one of the BSEC redevelopment is underway with $14 million in combined state and local government funding. This will add four extra courts and a 1500-seat stadium at the Wendouree facility.
Full redevelopment will allow Ballarat to remain competitive for major sporting tournaments and events across regional Victoria.
Mr Eddy was confident that an extra $5 million would bring the stadium up to standard to host national sporting teams, like the Australian Opals – the national women’s basketball team.
National Basketball League team Melbourne United and Women’s National Basketball League team Bendigo Spirit have already confirmed their intention to return for team camps and exhibition matches at the Minerdome in September. Mr Eddy said a redeveloped BSEC stadium opened the possibility for in-season Women’s National Basketball League matches or Australian Netball League matches – just like Eureka Stadium would soon host Western Bulldogs in AFL premiership season matches