BASS Coast’s basketball community is celebrating a remarkable turnaround after councillors this week unanimously backed plans for an indoor sports stadium in Wonthaggi.
In February, after two years of planning by sports groups and the previous council, local sports groups were dumbfounded when the new council voted five to four not to pursue government funding for the project or have anything to do with it.
On Wednesday night, following intense pressure from the community, councillors voted to proceed with the stadium project after all, subject to State Government funding of $4.5 million, and to allocate $1.5 million in the 2017-18 budget and/or long-term financial plan as a co-contribution to the project.
They will also negotiate with the Department of Education and Training and the Wonthaggi Secondary College on a joint use agreement to manage the stadium.
The president of the Wonthaggi Basketball Association, Cathy Garnham, said her committee had worked very hard since the original decision to convince councillors of the value of a highball stadium. “We fronted back up and gave it another shot.
“They clearly didn’t understand the value of this, not just to basketball but to other sports and for school and community events such as concerts, school plays and award nights. We put all the facts to them and used their own surveys to show the high needs in this community.
“We outlined the benefits to the whole community, how many people it would benefit. It’s something that can make money for the community because it will bring people into our shire.”
Cr Brett Tessari said the stadium would be a fantastic asset for the whole community. “It’s a chance to bring funds and families into our community and to show off what we have down here. It won’t just be Wonthaggi that will benefit but businesses right around the shire: cafes, restaurants, tourist businesses.”
Cr Clare Le Serve said Bass Coast needed all the opportunities it could give children and families. “It’s very exciting and hopefully a sign that a new secondary college is on the horizon.”
Cr Michael Whelan said that when councillors initially knocked back the project he was concerned it was a missed opportunity. “I’m delighted to see it revived. Credit must go to the CEO and staff who worked with the government to ensure we had another opportunity.”