Stadium’s ‘last shot’

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MORE than $5 million in federal funding to the Frankston area may be lost if an agreement cannot be reached on upgrading the Frankston Basketball Stadium before the end of March.

Frankston Council walked away from funding any part of the $12.7 million stadium upgrade after months of a bitter dispute with the Frankston & District Basketball Association over the terms of a new stadium lease.

Federal Dunkley Liberal MP Chris Crewther has now called on both parties to make a last-ditch attempt to reach agreement before 30 March.

Federal Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister John McVeigh has written to council advising council CEO Dennis Hovenden that the stadium upgrade cannot proceed without agreement with the FDBA.

The letter states: “Should you be unable to deliver the projects on the proposed site, you may wish to submit a proposal for an equivalent project on another site that will substantially achieve the same outcomes as the original funding commitment”.

The Times understands council has been looking at redirecting funding to the Jubilee Park Netball Stadium.

“The best option remains that FDBA and council come to a lease agreement by the end of March, enabling our $5.2 million funding for basketball and co-utilised facilities to proceed at the current site, at Frankston Basketball Stadium,” Mr Crewther said last week.

The federal MP wants both the FDBA and council to meet on Friday (16 March) in an effort to save the stadium upgrade.

The FDBA said it welcomes the planned meeting as a potential “circuit breaker”.

“Mr Crewther advised earlier this year that a meeting would be scheduled between parties to work through the current predicament the project finds itself in. A project which is fully funded and is delivering $3 to rate payers for every $1 council has invested – a model project in anyone’s language,” FDBA general manager Nathan Jolly said.

“The builder has been on site for the last 12 months ready to commence major construction works, along with Frankston Basketball having signed the future lease in October 2017. From Frankston Basketball’s perspective there is no reason why the project cannot start immediately once council sign the future lease.

“We hope Friday’s meeting can be the turning point so the community can finally achieve its vision of a nationally recognised basketball facility that delivers programs that ultimately contribute to the social wellbeing of our community.”

Frankston mayor Cr Colin Hampton said in a statement “council is aware of the Minister’s letter”.

“We are working in conjunction with Chris Crewther, community groups and peak sporting bodies on possible options which will ensure the federal government’s funding contribution remains in Frankston City, enabling council to deliver improved basketball facilities for the whole community,” the mayor said. “A response will be prepared to the Minister by the deadline.”

The federal government contributed $5.2 million, the state government $2.5 million, Frankston Council $4 million and the Frankston and District Basketball Association $1 million towards the stadium upgrade.

Carrum Labor MP Sonya Kilkenny did not respond to a request for comment before deadline about salvaging the stadium upgrade project in her electorate.

First published in the Frankston Times – 12 March 2018

This article was amended on 13 March to confirm the federal government has contributed $5.2 million and not $4.95 million towards the stadium upgrade. Another $250,000 was announced for retractable seating after the initial $4.95 million pledge.

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