High hopes for sport
It will allow us to bring together academia, training, medical services in a way never done before.
– STEPHEN BALI
AN EIGHT-STOREY, $20 million high-performance centre complete with lecture theatres, recovery pool, gym, viewing decks and function rooms form the vision Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali has to lift the Blacktown International Sportspark to the next level.
Cr Bali said planning for the site’s future would help keep it relevant and further secure the Blacktown area as a home to elite sport.
“To maintain our relevance for existing users and attract further prominent international teams, as well providing a pathway to success for our local athletes, we need to consider building a high-performance centre,” he said.
“With lecture theatres, recovery pools, fitness centres, medical facilities, it will allow us to bring together academia, training, medical services in a way never done before in Australia.
“Where else can you have people studying sports science and interact with champion athletes?
“This will provide a pathway for any child in Blacktown to strive for their dream of joining the ranks of the elite athletes.”
The Standard secured exclusive access to the concept plan and artist’s impressions prepared by Peddle Thorp Architects.
Council records show visitation at the sportspark, which hosted softball during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has steadily grown from 437,860 in the 2010-11 financial year to 757,011 in 2014-15.
While the plan is at the early concept stage, Cr Bali confirmed he had floated the idea with top-level sporting clubs, MPs, NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres and Western Sydney University representatives.
“Obviously they all love the idea but $20 million is roughly what it is worth and no one is going to be overly enthused until there is a funding model attached to it, I suppose.”
Cr Bali said the sportspark was already home to many elite sporting clubs and associations such as NSW Baseball, Softball NSW, Sydney Blue Sox, AFL NSW/ACT, GWS Giants reserve grade team and junior development squads, Cricket NSW, Blacktown District Soccer Football Association, International Goalkeepers Academy, Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Athletics.
“The visitation statistics show marked improvement in usage,” he said.
“We attract international sporting clubs from many youth and professional teams from Japan, Korea, United States, New Zealand and the Philippines.
“We also hosted a couple of years ago the AFL World Cup, cricket’s Matador Cup and warm-up games for the 50/50.
“Currently, we are receiving interest from various nations who want to send their athletes to BISP Athletics centre before they head off to the Olympic Games next year.”
Cr Bali said the centre would ensure the future of elite sport in the area.
“It’s not just for the elite or the best – it also gives pathways for your junior teams and people who are on the cusp of making it into the Spartans or City, or the Rangers … it gives them access to professional trainers, it gives them access to university people studying courses looking at sports science.
“It will be a $20 million investment and there is a lot more planning and discussion required before our dream turns into reality.”
The masterplan identifies a high-performance centre but no formal proposal has been adopted by the council.
Cr Bali, after consultation with Peddle Thorp Architects, proposes the centre would be built between the Spartans field and the M7.
Stephen Bali at the sportspark and (inset) an artist’s impression of the high-performance centre.