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A LA­BOR state govern­ment will kick in $7.4 mil­lion to up­grade Gee­long West Oval, bring­ing it a step closer to be­com­ing the city’s sec­ond AFL-stan­dard venue.

Gee­long state La­bor MP Chris­tine Couzens made the elec­tion pledge yes­ter­day, with the fund­ing to be used to de­liver a new pav­il­ion, carpark­ing, seat­ing and im­proved fa­cil­i­ties and ac­cess.

“Th­ese up­grades will make our clubs stronger and this ground a bet­ter place to play and watch the sports we love,” Ms Couzens said.

Lara state La­bor MP and Min­is­ter for Sport John Eren said the fund­ing would go a long way to en­cour­ag­ing more lo­cals to get ac­tive and strengthen Gee­long’s sport­ing rep­u­ta­tion.

Gee­long West Gi­ants chair­man Gareth Dren­nan said the fund­ing pledge brought tears of joy to some in the com­mu­nity.

“They didn’t think it would hap­pen in their life­time,” Mr Dren­nan said. “There’s a lot of his­tory at the club and it’s great to fi­nally get an up­grade.

“We have GDFL and GFL teams. We have a large num­ber of par­tic­i­pants and we just don’t have the room for all those peo­ple.

“With the changes, the ma­jor fo­cus will be (that) it can be used as an al­ter­na­tive to GMHBA. We’d love to have VFLW and VFL games. If we could we would love to have AFL pre-sea­son games there. We see it as some- where ev­ery­one can use out­side of GMHBA. Our club needed this but more than that Gee­long as a whole needs it as well.”

The fund­ing pledge comes just days be­fore the City of Greater Gee­long is set to re­ceive the Fi­nal Mas- ter Plan Re­port for West Oval on Tues­day night.

The re­port notes the to­tal cost of planned up­grades to West Oval will be $10 mil­lion, which could be shared by a fund­ing part­ner­ship be­tween the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments, AFL, lo­cal clubs and coun­cil.

The re­port also noted the pro­posed re­ten­tion of the her­itage-listed grand­stand, and the need for the re­lo­ca­tion of the velo­drome, which will be re­tained un­til it can be moved.

In July, Gee­long coun­cil­lors said the mas­ter plan was long over­due.

“Over the years, there’s no doubt the clubs have had to en­dure in­ad­e­quate con­di­tions,” Cr Eddy Kon­telj said. “At West Oval, you’ve only got to look at the change rooms to see how much an up­grade is needed.”

Cr Peter Mur­rihy even noted VFA matches were once hosted at the oval.

“I don’t think the ground or fa­cil­i­ties have changed much at all since those days, which says a lot,” he said.

The fund­ing pledge comes amid record par­tic­i­pa­tion lev­els and a grow­ing num­ber of teams play­ing at the oval for the Gee­long West Gi­ants Foot­ball Net­ball Club, which has 750 mem­bers.

The fund­ing is ex­pected to help boost par­tic­i­pa­tion across AFL, VFL, VFLW, net­ball, cricket and cy­cling.

“They didn’t think it would hap­pen in their life­time. There’s a lot of his­tory at the club and it’s great to fi­nally get an up­grade.” GEE­LONG WEST GI­ANTS CHAIR­MAN GARETH DREN­NAN

Pic­ture: ALAN BAR­BER

BRIGHT FU­TURE: Gee­long West stal­wart Kevin Kirby, cen­tre, whose ef­forts were ac­knowl­edged dur­ing the fund­ing an­nounce­ment, with Gee­long MP Chris­tine Couzens and Lara MP and Sports Min­is­ter John Eren at West Oval.

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