THE opening bounce for a long-awaited upgrade of Warrnambool’s Reid Oval came yesterday when Premier Denis Napthine turned the first sod for the $709,000 first stage.
It marks a significant kick-off towards a long-term goal of restoring the oval precinct to its status as the region’s premier outdoor sports venue able to attract top-level football, netball and cricket matches.
A new electronic scoreboard, multi-purpose changerooms and netball court extensions will be constructed during the next few months with expected completion before the Hampden league grand finals in September.
Further major improvements involving ground surface improvements, more lights, new male changerooms and media rooms will follow when funding and approvals have been secured for the estimated $2 million final stage.
“Today marks the culmination of many years of hard work, planning and fund-raising for this important project which will position Reid Oval as a premier multi-purpose sports facility,” said Dr Napthine, the member for South West Coast.
“Reid Oval can look beyond hosting local league football, cricket and netball matches and prepare to host state, national or even international events into the future.
“This has been a great team effort.”
The state government kicked in $200,000, with $225,000 from Warrnambool City Council, $119,000 of in-kind support, $90,000 from the oval users group, and $25,000 each from the Lane Foundation, Jones Foundation and Uebergang Foundation philanthropic trusts.
Mayor Michael Neoh said key features were decided on by user groups and council staff.
“Reid Oval has an important role to play in not only showcasing top-level sport, but contributing to the health and well-being of our community by providing high-quality sporting and recreational opportunities,” he said.
Cr Neoh said the next stage would be subject to funding availability.
A feature of the first phase will be a pavilion on the oval’s southern flank adjacent to netball courts.
It will provide changerooms which can be split for two netball teams or re-arranged into a single AFL-compliant facility for a visiting top-level football team.
The pavilion will also have an umpires’ changeroom and associated amenities, storage room, administration office, servery and disability-standard amenities.
There will also be a verandah shelter for spectators.
City council recreation and youth co-ordinator Kim White said Warrnambool Football Netball Club would manage the construction while the council would handle civil works and run the scoreboard tender process.