24/06/2010 - 00:00

Budget gives fans a sporting chance

24/06/2010 - 00:00


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THIS year’s state budget provided a number of highlights for Western Australia’s sporting diehards.

THIS year’s state budget provided a number of highlights for Western Australia’s sporting diehards.

But those thinking sporting infrastructure will be a major driver of construction work heading into the next 12 months are likely to be disappointed, with Master Builders Association WA executive director Michael McLean suggesting sports projects will not yield a considerable amount of work for construction companies.

“I’m not aware of too many projects on the drawing board that would be too significant for our industry,” Mr McLean said.

The most significant announcement catered to rugby and soccer fans, who finally received word that the Barnett government would commit $80 million to upgrade the rectangular nib Stadium, formerly known as ME Bank Stadium, to a 25,000-seat boutique facility.

Construction for the rectangular stadium is not expected to commence until 2012, and is contingent on the state government reaching agreement with the Town of Vincent on future ownership of the facility.

A second boost for rugby union came from Sports and Recreation Minister Terry Waldron in April, with the announcement that construction had started on the $10 million headquarters for Rugby WA at Perry Lakes.

WA-based commercial and industrial builder Esslemont was awarded the contract to build the facility, which is scheduled to be complete in April next year.

The rugby facility is the final stage in a three-pronged sports development in the Mount Claremont facility, joining the WA Athletics Stadium and WA Basketball Centre.

The combined cost of the athletics stadium, rugby headquarters and basketball facilities was $73.4 million.

The $40 million basketball facility will cater for State Basketball League games, give the Perth Wildcats a dedicated training venue, and provide eight courts for domestic competition.

Also delivered in May was the announcement that the state government had committed to construct a $26 million State Netball Centre at the Matthews Netball Centre in Floreat.

The Netball Centre will include four world-class indoor courts and provide office space for Netball WA headquarters.

Construction of the netball facility will commence mid-2012 and will be managed by VenuesWest.

But it is the mass of steel and concrete being assembled like a giant Meccano set on Wellington Street (which currently bears no resemblance to a world-class indoor stadium) that is WA’s biggest sporting infrastructure project.

It is also the most expensive, coming in at $536 million, already $376 million over the budgeted construction cost of $160 million.

The Perth Arena is also behind schedule, as it was originally scheduled to be delivered last year, and is now not expected to be completed before April 2012.

The arena, which is being built by BGC Construction, will become home to the annual tennis tournament, the Hopman Cup, and replace Challenge Stadium as the home court for the Perth Wildcats.

In a major milestone for the project, Melbourne-based architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall and local Perth firm Cameron Chisholm and Nicol released the building’s interior designs earlier this year.

Meanwhile, despite seemingly endless public debate, the state government is no closer to providing a solution to WA’s multi-purpose stadium needs.

It has been widely accepted that Perth requires a new stadium not only to cater for the thousands of West Coast Eagles members left without seats each week, but to allow the surging Fremantle Dockers room for membership growth.

In December, Premier Colin Barnett promised a new multi-purpose stadium would be built at Subiaco if Australia won the hosting rights to the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Mr Barnett flagged a progressive rebuild of Subiaco, which would cost more than the $450 million spent by the South Australian government to rebuild the Adelaide Oval, but significantly less than the $1 billion figure originally budgeted for a new stadium by the Carpenter government.

But last month’s release of a master plan to guide the redevelopment of Burswood Peninsula got tongues wagging again over the possibility of building the stadium east of the river and creating a Burswood sporting precinct, similar to Melbourne’s Docklands.

The push to re-examine the possibility of building a multi-purpose next-generation stadium at Burswood has been led by Member for South Perth John McGrath.

The stadium task force overlooked Burswood as its chosen site because of fears that decontaminating, then stabilising the former tip site could add as much as $200 million to the construction cost.

No matter the location, Probuild state manager Eric Meyerowitz said the company would be extremely interested in tendering for a potential multi-purpose stadium, especially given the firm’s international track record for delivering sporting infrastructure.

Probuild’s parent company, South Africa-based WBHO Construction Stadium in South Africa, was responsible for delivering the $US300 million Cape Town, $US250 million Moses Mabhida, and $US125 million Peter Mokaba stadiums, currently in use for the 2010 world cup.

“If it could be a greenfields project, starting from square one, that would be the best outcome,” Mr Meyerowitz said. “There would be no staging issues, where you get one stand finished, and then have you start the next one.

“I think people pay a premium for a staged rebuild. Stadium capacities are cut in half for a few years with the disruption to stadium operation.

“Also, you can’t open up multiple fronts on a project, so we would much prefer to do it that way.”



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