Showgrounds’ indoor sports stadium has scored a $2.6 million redevelopment grant through the State Government’s Sport and Recreation Victoria Community Sports Infrastructure Stimulus Program.
The money will go towards an overall refurbishment of the building both inside and out, including upgraded changerooms, accessible toilet facilities, kitchen and kiosk improvements, more storage, and better meeting and activity rooms.
One the list, too, are weatherproofing, increased run-off zones and competition compliance for the basketball court, and an expanded gymnasium space.
Eastern Victoria MLC Jane Garrett confirmed on Friday August 14, 2020 that the Foster stadium project was one of 27 to benefit from a share in the $68 million stimulus program.
South Gippsland Shire Council lodged a bid for the grant after the funding program was announced in late May.
Foster Showgrounds committee of management president Deb Allott said “it’s amazing news to hear that we’ve been given this grant!
“We’ve had the proper plans drawn up by an architectural firm for two or three years now and we’re ready to start, just as soon as the funds come through,” she said.
“We’re very happy with the outcome, and there certainly is an exciting time ahead once the work begins!
“My fingers were crossed, hoping that the shire’s grant application would be a success,” Mrs Allott said.
“Decent changerooms and repairing the leaks are major parts of an ongoing project, one the committee has had in mind for a long time, and we were pretty happy the shire went for this funding on our behalf,” she said.
“The building is old and apart from water getting in, the men’s toilets are disgraceful, and we’ve always needed up-to-standard bathroom facilities for people with disabilities.”
Ms Garrett said the Community Sports Infrastructure Stimulus Program was designed to build and upgrade community sports facilities across the state to back local sporting clubs, create jobs and boost Victoria’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This investment will support the local economy and create jobs – and support the growing number of people in Foster keen to get involved in sport and recreation,” she said.
“We’re making sport and recreation more accessible, welcoming and inclusive for all Victorians by giving communities the facilities they need.
“This investment recognises the overwhelming demand for shovel-ready community sports infrastructure and is part of the Victorian Government’s $2.7 billion Building Works package creating jobs and kick-starting vital projects across the state,” Ms Garrett said.
“The redeveloped facility will provide a perfect base for the Foster Basketball Association, Foster Football Netball Club, Foster Badminton and Hard Work Café to develop programs, train, host games and events,” she said.
“By working with local government authorities and sporting clubs and organisations, the program is fast-tracking community sports infrastructure projects across Victoria and is expected to create almost $140 million in local economic activity.
“This includes jobs in construction and supply chains with benefits for local businesses through the Victorian Government’s Local Jobs First requirements which will be built into contracts.”
Ms Garrett acknowledged the South Gippsland Shire Council for their commitment and financial contribution to the project.
Shire officers consulted both the showgrounds committee and Sport and Recreation Victoria before the municipality applied for the $2.26 million grant for the Foster stadium redevelopment project.
South Gippsland Shire administration panel chair Julie Eisenbise said that the funding would “give a much-loved recreation space in Foster a welcome upgrade.
“Foster’s indoor stadium is a well-used community facility that supports a range of sporting groups including basketball, the Foster Football-Netball Club, badminton and a gymnasium,” she said.
“It is also used by the University of the Third Age, Foster’s Promontory Produce and Craft Market, the Foster and District Agricultural Show Society and local school groups.
“Unfortunately, the stadium is no longer fit for purpose.
“The court does not meet minimum compliance standards for basketball, the changeroom facilities are not accessible or well designed, and the entry and other spaces lack storage and are not adequate to meet community need,” Ms Eisenbise said.
“The redevelopment will include providing a compliant basketball court, upgraded changerooms, a dry program area, meeting rooms, a kitchen/kiosk, more storage, exterior building beautification and formalised carparking,” she said.
“We’re very grateful to Sport and Recreation Victoria for supporting our application.”
Mrs Allott said the Foster Showgrounds committee had “spent a lot of money” on the stadium’s polished timber floor over the years and that the floor itself “is the best basketball playing surface in the shire.
“The stadium serves a lot of people in the Corner Inlet community, and it really is awesome that we’ve got this grant,” she said.
“The committee has worked hard on this project for many years, especially our secretary Deb Eales, who deserves a lot of the credit for this great result,” Mrs Allott said.
“Now we’ll be able to stop the leaks at long last and protect the floor, and also fix up the rest of the building and its facilities for the direct benefit of everyone who uses it.”