Stadium deal on the bell

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THE long-awaited redevelopment of Frankston Basketball Stadium will go ahead after the council and the basketball association agreed on lease terms last Wednesday.

Agreement came after a marathon session at the council offices that saw former federal MP Bruce Billson play the role of peacemaker between Frankston Council and Frankston District Basketball Association.

Mr Billson exercised a form of “shuttle diplomacy” during almost four hours of negotiations, walking between councillors and officers in the council chambers, and basketball people ensconced in the Acacia Room relaying offer and counter-offer. His efforts received praise from both sides.

Councillors were expected to formally approve the deal on Monday night at an ordinary council meeting.

However the project is not out of the woods as stage 1a and stage 2 are not yet fully funded.

Last Friday (30 June) council issued a statement stating the city and basketball association “have now agreed on future lease terms, which will guarantee the much-needed redevelopment of the Frankston Basketball Stadium goes ahead”.

The mayor, Cr Brian Cunial, said the deal “ensures both Victorian and Federal government funding is not lost”.

He said discussions centred on key elements of the lease proposal such as rent, rent review periods and future works. “It was also agreed that a working group to finalise the lease agreement and a project steering group to oversee stage one of works be established.

“Council is committed to progressing stages 1a and 2 of the … redevelopment and will continue to work with the FDBA in order to advocate and secure funding for these works at the upcoming state election.”

In the statement, basketball association president Gary Emery stated “the FDBA remains committed to contributing $1 million towards the project”.

Other funds for stage 1 include Frankston Council’s $4 million, $2.5 million from the state government and $5.2 million from the federal government.

Stadium “champion” Cr Glenn Aitken told The Times the meeting last week was the final chance to save the project. 

“There are still a few details to be sorted out,” he said. Stage 2 would include a “high-performance training centre” but was not in the scope of the current project.

The stadium redevelopment has gone off the rails several times during a long-running and sometimes divisive saga over more than four years.

State and federal politicians, including Mr Billson when he was federal MP for Dunkley, argued about funding promises and amounts.

Frankston Council and the basketball association had been at loggerheads over annual rent and who would operate and manage the stadium, which saw both parties engage lawyers. Basketball people had marched and demonstrated against the council.

In April, the council ordered builder Devco to stop work on the $12.7 million first stage of the stadium in Bardia Ave, Seaford, amid the stand-off over the lease.

Stage 1 includes four new courts including a show court with 600 seats, new entrance, show court changing rooms, and a new cafe with commercial kitchen.

Stage 1a will see an extra 1000 seats for the show court. Part of this cost, $250,000, has been funded by the federal government. Still to be funded is a bigger car park and a mezzanine floor above the show court that can be used as a function area. The council has agreed to develop plans in preparation for this stage, expected to cost about $3 million.

Stage 2, also unfunded, will see two more basketball courts built, bringing the total to 12.

First published in the Frankston Times – 3 July 2017

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