Source: The Courier. View the original article here
Ballarat’s indoor sporting community is a winner already in the Victorian election.
Premier Daniel Andrews matched a $5.2 million pledge for stage two works at Ballarat Sports and Events Centre on Tuesday afternoon, adding to a $9 million play Labor made to start the new stadium going into the 2014 state election.
The Liberal-Nationals committed the full stage two amount in October, should they win government in next week’s election.
This will mean a purpose-built strength and conditioning gym and three-on-three outdoor basketball courts, popularly known as street ball, as key features in stage two developments.
If you have got an opportunity to go even further, then you should always take it… To roll into existing an tender and have it all delivered in one go is just a fantastic outcome.
Premier Daniel Andrews
“If you have got an opportunity to go even further, then you should always take it,” Mr Andrews said. “We think that sometimes staggering projects is really important but sometimes to take that next step is really important as well. To roll into existing an tender and have it all delivered in one go is just a fantastic outcome.”
BSEC is also now a confirmed high-performance basketball training hub for emerging talent and elite athletes.
The project will also now get a modern skin, uniting existing facilities to the new wing.
Basketball Ballarat has already formalised partnerships with Federation University and University of the Third Age, which focuses on classes for the semi-retired and retirees, to maximise learning opportunities in the BSEC – particularly in the now-funded strength and conditioning gym.
Nicholson Construction remains on schedule to deliver stage one works by mid-2019. This will include six new courts – one a 3000-seat multi-purpose showcourt – learning rooms and sports medicine facilities.
Mr Andrews said the stadium was shaping up to not only be one of the best facilities in regional Victoria, but also for regional Australia that could host a whole range of events and tournaments.
The Premier visited existing courts on site to make Labor’s play as part of an $11.8 million for the Eureka Sports precinct. Mars Stadium will get $6.6 million in upgrades, should Labor be re-elected.
Mr Andrews said this funding was to boost game day experience for major sporting events, including more AFL matches for premiership points.
New ticket boxes, covered areas, permanent bathrooms and food and drinks areas, are high on the agenda with improved accessible seating and standing viewing, and fixing stadium niggles, like lighting.
Mr Andrews said it was vital to keep improving Mars for community and elite sport like AFL because in turn, this had a strong flow-on effect on the Ballarat economy.
BSEC has been a project being realised after more than a decade of lobbying.
Basketball Ballarat chief Peter Eddy said it was fantastic to have the funding commitment to move straight into the full construction vision.