THE south-west’s largest sporting project is a reality with Member for Western Victoria James Purcell announcing a state government-funded $7 million upgrade of Reid Oval.
The upgrade means AFL practice matches and other high-profile sporting events can be staged at the ground after massive improvements to the surface, infrastructure and lighting are complete.
The announcement follows months of intensive lobbying from Mr Purcell and the completion of a detailed business plan that estimates the upgrade will inject $88 million into the local economy and create 37 jobs.
"I'm thrilled to secure this $7 million in funding for Reid Oval. This is a great win and a really exciting development for our region,” Mr Purcell said.
“This is by far the largest sporting allocation to our area in history. It is a substantial amount of money and enough to upgrade the ground, lights, change rooms and spectator facilities.
"Our sporting facilities are long overdue for an upgrade and this rebuild is just one of the many projects that should be a reality for our community.”
Mr Purcell has pushed the Warrnambool City Council to get ready for the funding, saying in June that the council needed to be shovel-ready when the money came in.
"We met our end-of-season deadline. The money is in the bank and it's time to get moving and put these state-of-the-art facilities in place ready for future seasons.”
Mr Purcell said the $7 million for Reid Oval is in addition to funding for many other sporting groups in the south-west he had obtained from the Andrews Labor Government.
"The Port Fairy Bowls Club received $2 million for new clubrooms and on Thursday we also announced $400,000 for upgrades at the Koroit Football Netball Club.
“We have since had other sporting groups approach us for funding and if I am re-elected in November I intend to continue working with those groups already on our list – and others – to improve facilities across the south-west and increase community access to our sport clubs."
Mr Purcell said young people needed strong community leaders, sporting groups, role models and facilities they could be proud of to help them grow into well-rounded, responsible adults.
"I believe every cent we invest in these clubs and their facilities will pay back our community 100 fold," he said.
"It has been my pleasure to advocate on behalf of many groups across the south-west throughout the past four years and obtain much-needed funding for a variety of organisations.”
The funding announcement ended a torturous 20-plus-year battle for funding to redevelop the facility.
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