KINGSTON mayor Hadi Saab has defended spending $5 million in ratepayer money on a new facility for an AFL club as “great value for money”.
Kingston Council has agreed to fork out $5 million towards Hawthorn Football Club’s new Dingley Village training base. In return, the facility will be made available for community use at least 20 hours per week.
Saab says that the deal will help council keep up with growing demand for community sport. “Sport participation numbers are booming in our region, with women and girls’ footy leading this, and it’s essential the necessary infrastructure is put in place to not only meet the current demands but also serve the generations to come,” he said. “This project will cost-effectively transform a former landfill into a top-class facility and represents great value for money for our ratepayers. If we were to go it alone on a project of this type, we would be looking at four to five times as much upfront, plus the ongoing expenses.
“Our council is passionate about supporting sport and particularly the participation of women and girls and we are looking forward to seeing the Kennedy Centre project come to fruition.”
Hawthorn FC’s Kennedy Centre is expected to cost around $103 million. The club hopes to move in next year.
Kingston Council says that a 30-year funding and community access agreement is in place which “governs the development and use of a new community oval and pavilion at the Hawks’ new Dingley Village headquarters on Tootal Road, to provide shared AFLW and community use.”
The club bought the 28 hectare site in 2016.