Basketball stoush goes into overtime

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NEGOTIATIONS over a lease for the Frankston Basketball Stadium in Seaford remain deadlocked in the wake of a march by about 500 people demanding Frankston Council rethink a controversial rent proposal.

Marchers demonstrated disquiet on Monday 10 April over council’s plan to raise annual rent paid by the Frankston & District Basketball Association from $30,000 to about $130,000 after a $12.7 million first stage upgrade of the stadium.

It is understood that council and the association are now looking at annual lease payments of about $60,000 each year plus an additional $20,000 after stage one works to install four new courts taking the total number of basketball courts at the stadium to ten.

Lawyers for both parties are involved in negotiations and Sport and Recreation Victoria, a state Department of Human Services department body, is a party to talks between council and the FDBA.

A council push to review the operations and management of the stadium by March next year is a major sticking point amid FBDA fears council will try to “take over” operations of the building situated on council owned land.

The stadium’s construction was originally funded by the association. The FDBA currently has nine years remaining on its existing lease with no review.

An increasingly bitter war of words has seen Frankston mayor Cr Brian Cunial accuse the FBDA of “holding ratepayers to ransom” during negotiations by “refusing a future council the opportunity to conduct and objective review of the rent payable”.

Association president Gary Emery says council has not negotiated in good faith and the not-for-profit FBDA will fight to ensure increased costs are not passed on to families playing basketball at the stadium.

“The council appears to not want us to be the custodians of the building. They want to take it over themselves.”

Council initially committed $4 million of ratepayers’ money to the expansion to include four new basketball courts alongside $2.5 million of state government money and $5.2 million of federal government money from taxpayers.

The association was prepared to pitch in $1 million of members’ money to stage one of the stadium upgrade but council waived this offer after the FDBA said council was “double dipping” its members by also tripling annual rent.

Labor state MPs Paul Edbrooke (Frankston) and Sonya Kilkenny (Carrum) have called on council to resolve the dispute so the stadium upgrade can proceed.

Children’s basketball games often need to be played late in the evening due to courts often being fully booked during earlier hours.

First published in the Frankston Times – 1 May 2017

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