Suburban sporting clubs across Victoria will share in a $242 million state government package to improve grounds and facilities for women.
The state Budget spendathon will include $20 million to redevelop Ikon Park in Carlton North — previously Princes Park — as the “home of women’s football”.
A further $15 million will be locked in a Female Friendly Facilities Fund. And $60 million will be available for community sporting grants.
The grants will be distributed across all sporting codes.
The government’s sports overhaul guarantee regional Victoria more footy. A deal with the AFL guarantees Ballarat two matches a year over the next decade and Geelong eight to nine matches a year.
Other major winners from the package include:
MOORABBIN Oval, which gets $13 million for Stage 2 of its redevelopment, allowing the St Kilda AFLW team to play there from 2020;
CASEY Fields and Whitten Oval, which get a $10 million boost to share;
VICTORIA Park, which gets $2 million for infrastructure improvements.
In a push to get more community sports facilities without hurting the Budget bottom line, the government will also open up a $100 million infrastructure loan facility.
Under the scheme, which will cost taxpayers $5 million in fees to operate, local sporting clubs from across Victoria will be able to apply for interest-free loans to repair grounds or build facilities.
The reforms have been decided on because sports ovals and pitches are at capacity in many areas of the state, and some of them are in disrepair.
Sport and Major Events Minister John Eren said the new spending comes on top of a major deal with the AFL to enhance Etihad Stadium and upgrade the MCG.
“We’re redeveloping our biggest sporting precincts in Melbourne and across regional Victoria to keep the best events right here where they belong,” Mr Eren said.
In a state election year, political campaigns from both major parties are likely to involve promises about local infrastructure upgrades.
Some clubs are crying out for more space and facilities.
Under the government’s plan, more than $15 million would also be spent on upgrades at Albert Park, Yarra Bend, and other “key suburban sporting precincts”.
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