The City of Greater Geelong has committed $50,000 of its budget towards a feasibility and business plan for the development of a new regional soccer centre, with hopes that funding from federal and state governments could make the multi-million dollar facility a reality.
Councillor Kylie Grzybek said that while other regional areas like Shepparton and Ballarat have regional soccer centres, Geelong is missing out on opportunities without one of their own.
“We’ve been missing out in Geelong, and want to have the opportunity to host all types of soccer events, even rugby events, country championships, Croatian Cups, A-League and W-League. For example, when the World Cup comes we could host a team. We feel we have been missing out,” she said.
Grzybek explains this is a continuation of the council’s support for the world game, and the new facility was a part of her election campaign.
“It shows a dedication to the fastest growing sport in the country. Council has over the past 4 years invested heavily in soccer across the region, we are talking from female-friendly change rooms, lighting projects, to new pitches and clubs, trying to support the game generally,” she added.
Councillor Eddy Kontelj revealed that the idea for a regional soccer centre of Geelong has been in the pipeline since 2010, and the focus on soccer-specific infrastructure could make it a reality.
“It’s taken a while to get the level where we could seriously consider it, in the past decade there hasn’t been a lot of infrastructure work and investment at the local level, because the Geelong area has not had as much focus on soccer-specific facilities until now,” he said.
Cr Grzybek is hopeful that by the end of her current term, which is due to end in 3 years, work will have begun on the new facility.
“In my view, we will do the business case, and be out there spruiking it in time for the state and federal elections. You can get these types of funding or you don’t,” she said.
“I think the council will be looking to work out this financial year how much the council can contribute. It’s a facility that is probably anywhere between $10 million and $20 million, which is a lot of money. How can we stage it, how we can set aside the land for this type of facility.”
The City of Greater Geelong Council may be able to tap into the World Game Facilities Fund, or the Community Sports Infrastructure Program, which has helped fund other projects in the state of Victoria.