Federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan has jumped aboard Warrnambool's bid to salvage a place in the 2026 Commonwealth Games, launching a petition urging the Victorian government to include the south-west in its plans.
Mr Tehan said the hub cities and events that were announced last Tuesday were locked in, but there was still an opportunity for the region to play a part and get a share of the spoils.
"It's pretty set from what they've announced so far, so the petition is about advocating for those events or sports that haven't been announced yet like the marathon and the practice games," he said.
Mr Tehan appeared on Monday alongside Warrnambool City Council mayor Vicki Jellie on the grounds of the Warrnambool District Hockey Association to discuss the role the hockey club could play in the 2026 games.
WDHA president Paul Dillon said pitch upgrades had been in the works for several years, but the prospect of the hockey association becoming part of the Victoria's regional games was a perfect opportunity to call for more ambitious plans for the facility.
"The upgrade we have planned would be a very good pitch, but the way we see it, why not spend a bit more and get an international standard surface," Mr Dillon said.
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The state government awarded the Commonwealth Games' hockey events to Geelong, but the WDHA's idea was for pre-games training and practice matches to take place in Warrnambool.
WDHA secretary Mark Bridge estimated a top shelf surface would cost between $1-1.5 million, roughly double the price of the current upgrade.
"That's just to put in a pitch of that sort of standard," he said, adding that there was no chance Warrnambool could even host training for the 2026 games unless the pitch was in that top bracket.
But Mr Dillon said he would also hope the facility would expand.
"We're looking at the 10-year vision. We can't even have a regional tournament here at the moment, because you'd have so many people sitting around waiting to play."
He also said the clubrooms would need a substantial facelift if it were to host international teams.
"The current clubhouse, I remember it from when I played here in the 1990s and it hasn't changed much."
Mr Tehan said securing the hockey training and practice matches would be great for the local economy and inspirational for young hockey players.
He said he was also pushing hard for the marathon to be run in the south-west, and had gone as far as plotting his own proposed route for the event.
"Wouldn't it be great if you could showcase Port Fairy and Warrnambool through a marathon? One of the most beautiful parts of Victoria," he said.
Mr Tehan's route begins in Port Fairy, running past East Beach and along the Princes Highway before turning at Tower Hill and out through Koroit before coming down into Warrnambool and finishing at Lake Pertobe.
"So there's a proposal, something to get everyone talking. I'm sure other people will have some other ideas, but to me that would just be a wonderful way of taking the Commonwealth Games beyond Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat into a unique part of Victoria," he said.
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