High hopes for sport

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Ali­son Bald­ing

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.

Pic­ture: JUSTIN SANSON

Stephen Bali at the sportspark and (inset) an artist’s im­pres­sion of the high-per­for­mance cen­tre.

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