$10m fund­ing key to WACA de­vel­op­ment

The West Australian - - NEWS - Steve But­ler

The re­de­vel­op­ment of the world-fa­mous WACA Ground is rest­ing on a $10 mil­lion Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment fund­ing de­ci­sion as Op­tus Sta­dium pre­pares to be­come WA’s new home of cricket.

WACA chief ex­ec­u­tive Christina Matthews said the ground needed a facelift cost­ing up to $70 mil­lion to trans­form it into a bou­tique sta­dium with ca­pac­ity for 10,000 fans by 2022, with fur­ther plans to cre­ate a mul­ti­sport com­mu­nity venue.

It would in­clude a cafe, re­tail ar­eas and a new WACA mu­seum that would not only hon­our cricket’s past but all the events held at the ground in­clud­ing AFL, rugby, soc­cer, con­certs and even de­fence force train­ing for World War II.

Ms Matthews said the WACA, which could be­come home to WAFL matches, would com­ple­ment the Fed­eral fund­ing with $10 mil­lion from cricket’s phi­lan­thropy fund and was bank­ing on a cash in­jec­tion from the State Gov­ern­ment.

Cricket Aus­tralia was likely to pledge $4 mil­lion.

The WA game’s new busi­ness model based on a sig­nif­i­cant mem­ber­ship boost at Op­tus Sta­dium, which will host its first Test match start­ing next Fri­day, would also con­trib­ute.

“We’re hop­ing to have a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ment by Fe­bru­ary and then at least be­fore the end of the fi­nan­cial year we’d hope to be talk­ing to the State Gov­ern­ment,” Ms Matthews said.

“There is no State in the coun­try that can live with only one sta­dium, so hav­ing a sec­ond one is re­ally im­por­tant and it’s also about re­tain­ing her­itage of the city.

“This has enor­mous po­ten­tial in WA and even more po­ten­tial in Aus­tralian cricket and feed­ing the rest of the game.”

WACA revenue last year was up more than $6 mil­lion to $36.7 mil­lion, a growth of more than $12 mil­lion since Ms Matthews took up her post in 2012. She ex­pected that fig­ure to rise to at least $39 mil­lion next year.

Mem­ber­ship is ex­pected to break through 10,000.

Sports Minister Mick Mur­ray said the State Gov­ern­ment had pro­vided the WACA with fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to­talling $250,000 to­wards plan­ning the re­de­vel­op­ment. “I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work with the WACA as plan­ning pro­gresses,” he said.

Pic­ture: Michael Wil­son

A view of the WACA from Fraiser Suites.

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