$7.4M PLEDGE FOR GEELONG WEST OVAL
LABOR PROMISES $7.4M TO UPGRADE WEST OVAL
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
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.