21/05/2008 - 22:00

Ball rolling on stadium plans

21/05/2008 - 22:00

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Nearly four months have passed since the state government revealed Kitchener Park to be its chosen site for a 60,000 seat multi-purpose sports stadium.

Ball rolling on stadium plans
On Track: The inclusion of the government\'s $1.1 billion multi-purpose stadium at Kichener Park in next years budget has taken discussions to the next level.

Nearly four months have passed since the state government revealed Kitchener Park to be its chosen site for a 60,000 seat multi-purpose sports stadium.

And while there has been little evidence of progress since then, the inclusion of the stadium in next year's budget has set the ball rolling on the next stage of negotiations, with about three quarters of the forecast $1.1 billion total set aside.

Stakeholders told WA Business News the Department of Sport and Recreation is in the process of setting up project teams, made up of user representatives, to take the project forward.

For the WA Football Commission, the major breakthrough came when the government agreed to underwrite the benefit it enjoys at Subiaco.

Yet working out how that advantage will be preserved is a more complex debate.

WAFC commissioner Frank Cooper said the issue, and that of user rights at the stadium, was still being negotiated.

"It's getting into the practical, operational debate of the key principles which were originally discussed," Mr Cooper said.

"I think there has been fair progress.

There's an enormous amount of detail that needs to be worked through.

It's very difficult to complete one component, because they're all closely interlinked." Mr Cooper said that while the WAFC was keen to receive greater clarity on a timeframe for delivery, the government was equally motivated to keep momentum going.

"The government is very keen to work to its timetable and broad milestones as well, because it wants to control any escalation in costs," he said.

"The more this is planned and structured at the front end, the better it's going to work later." From the government's point of view, progress is being made in discussions with the WAFC.

"It was never expected that there would be a line drawn in the sand on this - it's a complex issue.

The biggest thing was for government to get the approval from football to go forward," a spokesperson for Sport and Recreation Minister John Kobelke said.

"When we announced the project in February, we highlighted that it wouldn't be a quick thing.

It's a two year planning process." For other stakeholders, the level of involvement in the project to date has been limited.

"In recent times, we've not had as much to do with it.

It seemed to be a matter of time, waiting to see if it would be in the budget or not," Rugby WA chairman Geoff Stooke said.

"The issue is to clearly establish what our costs will be.

We've been told, informally, that the AFL will be no worse off and if that's the case, we would expect similar treatment."

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