Grounds for concern: Ailing facilities at Warrnambool's Reid Oval

BELOW par lights, poor umpire amenities and an inadequate playing surface are just some of the reasons why Warrnambool’s ailing Reid Oval has been in the spotlight for decades. 

The oval was deemed unsuitable for female football participation in the Great South Coast’s draft Regional AFL, Cricket and Netball Strategy and scored 51 per cent in its provision and condition assessment against preferred regional level facility standards for football. 

The dismal conditions have been detailed in Warrnambool City Council’s business case for a $12.5 million upgrade to Reid Oval.

The plan, which was unveiled on Tuesday, would bring the oval up to AFL standard. 

The council’s report stated that in its current state, the oval rated poorly for umpire amenities, playing field condition and lighting.

The player change rooms and amenities also rated poorly in the Great South Coast’s draft strategy and were deemed unsuitable for female participation, while cricket practice wickets were identified as needing medium-term replacement. 

The report also revealed the 31 lux lighting levels were significantly lower than the minimum training standard of 50 lux. 

“At this level, spreading of ground use across the better lit areas is not possible and it limits the capacity to schedule night time fixturing as is enjoyed at other regional level venues,” the report read. 

A minimum of 100 lux is required to maintain player safety for night competition matches, with 150-200 lux preferred to improve spectator visibility.

Surface tests revealed heavy compaction and hardness on the ground and subsequent player safety concerns, which were identified as a major barrier to the AFL bringing pre-season competition to Warrrnambool. 

Poor ground condition and high participation also meant the surface was considered to be at capacity with no options to expand user access, particularly in the winter months. 

“This directly impacts sports’ ability to plan for and accommodate continued participation growth, particularly female participation or provide suitable venue options for pre-season needs, elite pathway programs, interleague competition structures or league and association finals,” the council’s report read.

In netball, the oval’s facilities met 96 per cent of club requirements following improvements to infrastructure in recent years.