Shocked East Warrnambool Football Netball Club is angry councillors have backed Reid Oval development plans which would see their facilities razed.
The first they knew about Monday night's vote was when they read about it in The Standard and club treasurer Julie Scoble said it brought her close to tears. "It's heartbreaking," she said.
Committee member Robin Membery said he felt sick and angry when he heard the news.
The club said the uncertainty over the redevelopment had forced them into recess in 2020 and 2021, and the loss of its facilities could kill the club.
The approved concept plans, they say, would reduce East Warrnambool's footprint at Reid Oval by 75 per cent and would take away its ability to stay afloat.
"There's been so much uncertainty that's put us into recess, now if they take our clubrooms away, what chance does it give us to come back?" Ms Scoble said
"The fight's hard enough. They've put us in the back corner anyway.
"We were the first tenants and we seem to be the ones getting shafted."
But Cr Sue Cassidy said it was only at the start of the process, "nothing was cemented in" and they hoped to keep communications open to make sure everyone was happy.
Mr Membery said state government funding for the redevelopment was granted on the basis that it was a two-storey building and the East Warrnambool and Warrnambool clubrooms were not to be touched.
On Monday councillors voted to change the scope of the project which would make the pavilion a single-storey building, requiring East's social rooms to go.
When they first found out there was talk of levelling the facilities the club had poured $250,000 into, they were stunned.
Mr Membery said they "didn't even have the decency" to tell the club and were left to find out at a users' forum in front of everyone.
"We had a fairly heated argument and we said to them like-for-like we will agree with the building knocked down," he said.
Mr Membery said they were told the concept plans - two out of three required levelling the club's facilities - would be redefined and brought back to the club before it went to council. "They didn't come back us," he said.
The club understood there would be no decision made in that space until March next year.
The preferred plans will leave the club with smaller social rooms, no office, no kitchen or cool room and they would have to share a gym - all of which they would only have access to six months of the year. Nestles Cricket Club would use it for the other half of the year.
They say any club needed to operate 12 months of the year or it won't survive financially.
Ms Scoble said the club had major fundraising catering contracts that they would not be able to fulfil if their facilities - which they use year round for fundraising - were demolished.
"Our club revenue would be majorly affected if we didn't have access to a kitchen of the same standard," they say.
Ms Scoble said under the plans their existing change rooms would increase by six square metres but Warrnambool's would be reduced by eight square metres.
The club also said it had been told that of the $11 million budget there was only $3 million left to build the pavilion with the rest already gone towards consultants, employee costs and ground and lighting upgrades.
Ms Scoble said the designs had changed to make the money stretch further.
Mr Membery said it had been asked to chip in $50,000 to the redevelopment, but why would they when it would be detrimental to the club's future.
Mr Membery said if East goes, the new venue would also lose $9000 a year in rent.
The club estimates it would cost about $150,000 to demolish the building which to replace like-for-like would be about $500,000.
"Given we have paid for this facility how can council justify demolition?" Ms Scoble said. "Because of all the money we've put in here, it's really like ripping us apart."
In the past year the club had built an $80,000 to $100,000 gym, and in the past month she estimated council had paid about $20,000 for tradies to make their building compliant.
Ms Scoble said the public needed to understand the "waste of public money on this project" when the council had just replaced all the lights and carried out other work at a facility that was earmarked for demolition.
"It seems silly getting us to compliance stage when they're going to demolish us," she said.
Ms Scoble said she was also concerned that councillors voted for the concept plan not knowing that the umpires were also upset with the plans.
"We think they're wasting the money. When they look at the facilities they're planning, which is smaller than we've got existing," she said.
Mr Membery rasied concerns the concept plan had no ambulance access and the biggest footprint on the pavilion was office space for non-existing users of the Reid Oval.
Office space has been set aside for South West Sports Assembly, AFL Western District Commission and some for cricket.
"As a first tenant at the Reid Oval, our voice has been taken away from us for these new tenants coming in," Ms Scoble said.
Mr Membery also said there was no upstairs media room or coaches box, and no back entrance for AFL gear teams would need to bring.
"They're going to keep that old grandstand as it is and put some seats in front of it," Ms Scoble said.
The club, an original tenant of Reid Oval having moved there in 1956 at the urging of council, has made its opposition to the demolition clear to those driving the redevelopment and thought that they were still in negotiations.
They say they were blindsided by the council vote they knew nothing about.
"It feels underhand what they've done to us," Ms Scoble said.
The club has written to councillors and South West Coast MP Roma Britnell.
The club said that as soon as it was honest about going into recess, plans to demolish their buildings were unveiled.
"Seventy per cent of our members are indigenous. We offer a great thing for the community here," Ms Scoble said.
Umpires haven't backed preferred concept plans
Warrnambool and District Umpires Association president Steve Walker said he was caught by surprise to read the council had been told that all users, bar East, were on board with the concept plans which would see their existing facilities also knocked over.
"They didn't have it from the umpires association that's for sure," Mr Walker said.
"Some of the stuff I was happy to compromise with but there was never any universal endorsement of that plan."
He said they still didn't know if their facilities would be reduced in size in the new venue. "It's already crammed as it is," he said.
Mr Walker said he was happy to share some facilities and having it on one level made sense but he was not happy with the plans without knowing the dimensions of the social area.
He was also concerned with talk of a shared social room with East Warrnambool with a concertina dividing wall.
"There's four user groups, they need to have four separate social areas. We can't have a football club next to us. It's going to make both groups uncomfortable," Mr Walker said.
He said ultimately if it's going to be too hard, we leave our umpires rooms where they are and renovate the umpire rooms to give extra space to East and the change rooms.
Council unveils plans
The preferred concept for a single-storey building includes modern player and spectator amenities, social rooms, office administration space for regional sporting bodies and an undercover area for spectators, the council said.
The pavilion design includes two main change rooms which can be partitioned to create four separate change rooms, creating appropriate facilities for male, female, junior and senior games to be hosted on the same day.
For the first time, there will be separate male and female umpire change rooms. These rooms will be located separately to the player facilities to maintain an appropriate feeling of security for umpires on game day.
The building will create equitable access for tenant clubs, with the Nestles Cricket Club, East Warrnambool Football Netball Club and the Warrnambool and District Umpires Association to have social rooms, storage facilities and access to meeting spaces and a gym.
The new facility will meet AFL and Cricket Regional Standards.
There remains the opportunity to use the Warrnambool Football Netball Club social rooms if elevated coaching facilities were required for AFL matches, therefore saving the need to provide elevated space in the new pavilion.
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