Minister acknowledges “out of date” sporting facilities

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Mitchell WoodcockSouth Western Times
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Bunbury is missing out on the economic and social benefits of hosting major sporting events due to its facilities being not up to standard, according to Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray.

Ahead of a public forum at the Bunbury Bowling Club last week, Mr Murray told the South Western Times the facilities at Hands Oval and the South West Sports Centre “were out of date 20 years ago”.

Mr Murray said when he had approached professional organisations to come to Bunbury, they had rejected his offer because the facilities were “not up to scratch”.

He acknowledged there had been a lot of promises from various parties regarding stage two of Hands Oval’s upgrades and he had no time frame for when they would begin.

“Don Punch has been on my back about this,” he said.

“To be the premier oval in the South West it needs some close examination.”

Hands Oval has not hosted an AFL pre-season game since the Fremantle Dockers played the Western Bulldogs in 2011, while the last WAFL game was in 2014 between Swan Districts and East Perth.

South West Football League general manager John Vidos said the old facilities were holding the ground back from hosting bigger games.

“We have to look at getting something with suitable seating, four to five changerooms and function facilities,” Mr Vidos said.

“Our facilities at Hands Oval are four decades behind other regional areas.”

He said an upgrade at Hands Oval would also likely attract more people to SWFL matches.

“People are creatures of comfort and the more comfortable people are the more chance of them coming back.”

Mr Murray called for the Bunbury City Council and various sporting organisations to take a lead role in the improvement of the facilities.

He said both should contribute financially to the upgrades and not rely on just the State Government for funding.

“It disappoints me that both the council and sporting clubs do not put away money each year to renovate the facilities,” he said.

“In the future I want clubs to have the money to expand, so it’s not back on the ratepayers, councils and government.”

“If you sit there and wait for someone to pay for it, then it won’t happen.”

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