Dreams of Warrnambool hosting AFL practice games and Big Bash cricket matches were dashed this week when concept plans for the $11m Reid Oval development were unveiled.
The plan to create a two-storey building that housed changerooms, indoor warm-up facilities, elevated coaching and media boxes, medical rooms and social facilities has been scaled back to a single-storey complex.
East Warrnambool says its changerooms will be no bigger than now, there will be no elevated coaching box, no media facilities. Instead there will be offices for sports groups. East is livid its social rooms will be demolished and it will only have access to smaller facilities.
Warrnambool City councillors voted to accept the concept plans this week but stressed they were not set in stone just yet. The suggestion is there is room to negotiate. But the project is already expected to exceed budget and the council's coffers are empty. In such a big project, it would be a shame if corners were cut.
The council has one chance to get the oval redevelopment right. It only needs to look back at its other major sporting investments in the past 20 years - AquaZone and Warrnambool Stadium. Cr Peter Hulin has long argued the council never got the AquaZone development right and the 11th-hour decision to cut changerooms in half at the stadium left an embarrassing legacy.
Colac has a facility that will host AFL giants Geelong and Essendon in a practice match next March. Why can't a bigger regional city like Warrnambool do the same?
Ratepayers rightly expect prudent financial management but they won't want the council dipping again into the coffers in another few years to finish the job, that's why it needs to do the project properly. It has to do more to secure extra funds.
Wannon MP Dan Tehan helped secure federal funds for Hamilton's Melville Oval in 2015, Canberra also threw more than $2m into Colac's Central Reserve development. Will Mr Tehan come to the rescue? Has he even been asked? Will the AFL dip into its deep pockets given football will be the major beneficiary? If a job's worth doing, it needs to be done right.