Inner West Council dedicates $10 million to saving Leichhardt Oval, state and federal governments yet to commit

Inner West Council dedicates $10 million to saving Leichhardt Oval, state and federal governments yet to commit
Image: Leichhardt Oval Football Stadium. Wikimedia Commons

A local council has dedicated $10 million towards a redevelopment of Leichhardt Oval but is yet to receive funding commitment from the state and federal governments.

The Wests Tigers’ future at the oval, affectionately known as the “eighth wonder of the world”, also remains uncertain. The NRL team had threatened to leave the ground next season if facilities had not improved.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said after an unanimous vote on Tuesday night that it was now “crunch time for Leichhardt Oval”, but that upgrading the ground to make it suitable for NRL games would require state and federal funding.

“If I had a dollar for every time I thought we had the money for Leichhardt Oval, we would have saved the ground a long time before now,” he told AAP on Wednesday.

“I’m not going to jinx it by overstating our position, we don’t have any agreement as yet … but now was the time for the council to make clear our contribution and we’re going to keep fighting to win the funding.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns had said earlier this year that the state was in no financial position to contribute $30 million to the stadium’s facelift. He also rejected the Tigers’ calls to divert some of the $309 million destined for Penrith Stadium.

But after the federal government agreed to pitch in for the much-needed works – there is yet to be an official confirmation – Minns has said he was “open” to contribute some of the funding.

“We haven’t made a formal decision yet but the circumstances have changed because it looks as though the federal government and the local government are going to chip in,” Minns told 2GB’s Ben Fordham earlier in May.

“So given the cost isn’t just exclusively borne by us, and that the ground is falling into disrepair, we are open to it, but we haven’t made a final decision.”

But some have expressed concerns that council’s $10 million commitment won’t cover all the costs.

“They need to put their money where their mouth is”

Kobi Shetty MP for Balmain said, “While the funding from council is a start to getting to work on the masterplan, it won’t come close to covering the full project.”

“Both the Premier and the Prime Minister have alluded to available funding from the state and federal governments for this project. But they need to put their money where their mouth is, and make a firm commitment to the council.

Calling on the state and federal governments to take action, she said,

“What I don’t want to see is local Inner West ratepayers having to foot the bill for this project, if the state and federal governments don’t come to the table.”

“Inner West Council has made a significant investment, and I want assurances that our community won’t be left with an even bigger bill or a half-finished project if these turn out to be empty promises from the Premier and the Prime Minister.”

Shetty has written to both the Premier and the Prime Minister seeking assurances on the matter.

 

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