Government delivers NRL clubs another win

30Jul2015. Sydney:?????? Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015Day 1 – Session 3 – Moderator The Hon. Stuart Ayres MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Minister for Sport, NSW Government. Photo Michele Mossop/Boao Forum.A new community and high-performance centre will be developed by the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Maroubra, part-funded by a $50 million outlay from the state government to NRL clubs.

Sports Minister Stuart Ayres revealed on Tuesday the government would increase funds available to NRL clubs for “centres of excellence” from $40 million to $50 million.

The funds, which the government says come from previous cash allocations for NRL grand finals, are contingent on clubs raising equivalent money themselves or from third parties.

At Maroubra, Souths will use $8.7 million from the state government to build a 5,500 square metre facility at Heffron Park costing $25.7 million. The federal government will provide $10 million, Randwick Council $3 million, and Souths $4 million.

The club’s chief executive, Blake Solly, said the bulk of the centre would be open for public use and for Souths’ community programs. “The gym facility won’t be, but pretty much everything else will be,” said Mr Solly.

Such facilities included sporting fields, a classroom and meeting rooms. Souths plan to move into the area when their lease runs out at Redfern Oval in 2020, though the club said it would retain links with its “spiritual home”.

The government will also make grants to the Bulldogs ($2 million), Newcastle Knights ($10 million), the Roosters ($5.8 million) and the Cronulla Sharks ($8 million). The government said it would reserve for the Sea Eagles $10 million, and Wests Tigers $5.5 million, while those clubs developed proposals.

The funding for the Roosters is to be spent on headquarters and training facilities, the government said, while the Bulldogs’ facilities will be developed at Belmore. In a statement, the interim chief executive at the Sharks, Paul Eriksson, said the club’s centre of excellence would be a “sporting, community and education hub.”

The announcement of the funding allocation follows significant public controversy over stadium funding. The $40 million was promised in April 2016, when former premier Mike Baird said the government would refurbish ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park, but not build a new stadium at Moore Park.

Last month, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian over-turned that decision, and said the government would replace stadiums at Moore Park and Olympic Park at a cost of $2 billion.

Mr Ayres said the centres of excellence would “provide NRL clubs an opportunity to maintain a strong presence in traditional communities as the government prioritises capital investment into a targeted number of … venues”.

The opposition, which has previously promised $55 million for NRL centres of excellence, criticised the increase in the funding.

“This is even before we get to the additional $200 million needed for the indoor sports stadium they have promised,” said Labor’s sports spokeswoman, Lynda Volz.

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