NETBALLERS playing in Warrnambool and District league preliminary finals on Saturday will finally have access to new change rooms at Reid Oval.
But works on an electronic scoreboard will not be complete until after the football-netball season is finished in late September.
Warrnambool City Council yesterday played up the near-completion of the “marathon” $709,000 redevelopment of the Cramer Street ground.
Acting recreation and culture manager John Finnerty said Warrnambool Football Netball Club first used the change rooms last Saturday, with feedback positive.
“The pavilion has been finished,” Finnerty said. “It had a trial run on the weekend which went quite well. That’s going to be used for the netball finals. The remaining works as part of that project is the installation of the electronic scoreboard, which will proceed after football finals are finished.
“We didn’t want to mess around with the ground too much at this stage.
“Other than that there is a bit of civil work around the new netball pavilion. We have to finish off the road and extend the netball court run-off.”
Finnerty said a preference for a high-quality electronic scoreboard — which meant sourcing extra cash from council coffers — was behind the installation delay.
The council will put the project to tender in coming weeks, with works to start after the Hampden league grand final on September 20.
“What’s preventing that happening is hesitation of undertaking extra civil works before finals,” Finnerty said.
“Also, we wanted to get a little bit extra money so we could build a slightly more advanced scoreboard.
“We should be ready to proceed with the scoreboard. We’re looking to advertise that in the next couple of weeks.”
The opening of the change rooms, if not the scoreboard, marks the latest milestone of a drawn-out project three-and-a-half years in the making.
The council first announced it had developed plans for a netball facility upgrade at Reid Oval in March, 2011.
Stakeholders, including the council, state government and football-netball clubs Warrnambool and East Warrnambool, agreed to a funding plan six months later.
The state government confirmed a $200,000 commitment in August, 2012, with the project then estimated at $565,536.
But a cost blowout, revealed by The Standard last December, dashed any hopes of an early completion before the 2014 finals series.
The council’s contribution has risen from an initial $100,000 to $225,000. User groups, including the tenant clubs, have contributed $90,000.
The Jones Foundation, Lane Foundation and Uebergang Foundation philanthropic trusts each donated $25,000, while $119,000 is in-kind support.
Finnerty said Warrnambool FNC had chipped in extra to install a second light tower on the eastern side of the courts, a separate but related aspect of the project.
He said having redevelopment close to completion was a relief and praised the work of the project control group members.
They include Warrnambool FNC representatives Gerard Duynhoven and Gary McLeod, builder Jarrod Dorney, council representatives and contractors.
“I can certainly feel the sense of relief from the clubs’ perspective,” Finnerty said.
“It’s been a marathon project that’s come together quite rapidly at the end but had a very long lead-in time.”