FUNDING BOOST: Mildura Deputy Mayor Ali Cupper, Labor candidate for the seat of Mildura, Dr Tony Alessi, and Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp announce $3million towards the first stage of the $36.5million Mildura South Regional Sporting Precinct. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By VINNIE RODI

MILDURA Rural City Council has finally secured State Government support for one of its landmark Mildura Future Ready (MFR) projects following months of advocacy.

Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp announced a $3million grant toward the $36.5million Mildura South Regional Sporting Precinct’s (MSRSP) first stage on Tuesday, with funds awarded through the Andrews Labor Government’s Better Indoor Stadiums Fund.

Council has so far managed to secure $19million for the MSRSP, with the Federal Government awarding $10million to the project earlier this year, and Council committing $6million of its own funds.

A further $10million could also be made available for the MSRSP’s second stage, however this funding is dependant on a Liberal-Nationals win at the November State Election. 

Council is expected to now take Stage One of the project to tender, with an aim to start construction by the middle of next year, and be completed by the end of 2020.

Mr Gepp said the $3million windfall will enable Council to push ahead with plans to build a six-court indoor stadium, adding that the facility was also set to include spectator seating, female-friendly and accessible change rooms and amenities, a social area, cafe and kiosk, reception and storage facilities and a sealed carpark.

More than 2600 people from the local basketball, volleyball, table tennis and badminton ranks are expected to call the precinct home once it is completed.

Council’s general manager Community, Martin Hawson, said the additional $3million allocated to the MSRSP’s first stage provided “some certainty about what we can build.”

“In terms of timelines, we’re looking at going out to tender very soon for the next layer of design aspects, looking at how we are going to set up the construction model,” he said.

“Now that we have funding, we have some certainty about what we can build. The key thing is that we can now go to tender with a decent chunk of work.

“What will happen, ideally, is that we secure the additional funding needed to complete the entire $36.5million project. At the moment the $19million we have will complete the indoor stadium component. We still need funding to make the outdoor component a reality.”

Once fully completed, the $36.5million MSRSP will also include two outdoor sports fields capable of hosting local football and cricket matches, with the premier sporting field also able to host AFL matches.

Mr Hawson said securing the additional $3million in State funding was vital in making the indoor component of the project viable. He added that Council would continue to pursue both State and Federal funding over the next 12 months to get the MSRSP’s other stages “up and running.”

Mr Gepp was joined by Labor candidate for the seat of Mildura, Dr Tony Alessi at the announcement, and described the funding as the “worst kept secret in Mildura”.

Mildura Deputy Mayor Ali Cupper welcomed the funding, saying Council had “been preparing for a long time – over 15 years” to make the facility a reality.

“For too long the growth in our indoor sporting groups has been held back because of a simple, but frustrating, problem, which is a lack of facilities for people to be able to use,” she said. “The statistics are not pretty – our participation rate for indoor sports is half that of the State average.

“Mildura Future Ready is not just a shopping list… these projects have been chosen because of their potential to make a deep, meaningful and lasting impact on our social and economic prospects and fortunes.”