New deadline for basketball stadium lease

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ANOTHER deadline has been handed to the Frankston Basketball & District Association to comply with council demands over a new lease for an expanded basketball stadium at Seaford.

Frankston councillors behind closed doors after May’s public council meeting decided to give the FBDA until Tuesday 6 June “to respond to the final lease offer being made by council”.

Frankston Council and the association have been locked in bitter arguments over terms for a proposed new lease as part of a $12.7 million upgrade of the stadium to include four new basketball courts and seating for spectators.

Frankston mayor Cr Brian Cunial has accused the FDBA of “holding ratepayers to ransom” by “refusing a future council the opportunity to conduct and objective review of the rent payable”.

Association president Gary Emery has said the FBDA fears council is trying to “take over” the running of the FDBA built stadium leased on council land.

The association currently has nine years remaining on its lease at the stadium and does not want to sign any lease that includes a council review of the management and operations of the stadium.

“The final lease proposal has been the result of discussions with the FDBA, reflecting a fair and reasonable outcome for the sporting community and the ratepayers of Frankston,” Cr Cunial said in a statement.

“Depending on the FDBA’s response, a further report will go to the 13 June council meeting. In the event of the FDBA not agreeing to these terms, council will then consider how to best proceed with building the project without the FDBA’s involvement.”

FDBA president Gary Emery confirmed the association had received a letter from council about a new lease deadline, the latest in a series of final deadlines imposed by council during negotiations.

“We intend to meet the deadline if possible,” Mr Emery said.

Council initially committed $4 million of ratepayers’ money to the stadium upgrade 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 to about $130,000.

It is understood that the new lease offer would see the FDBA pay about $80,000 annually after the stadium expansion but a review of operations remains a sticking point.

First published in the Frankston Times – 5 June 2017

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