Stadium expansion still on the cards

Stadium expansion still on the cards

Federal Minister for Sport Greg Hunt (left) with Member for Tangney Ben Morton, who wants federal funding for Willetton Basketball Association. Photograph - Aaron Van Rongen.

The Federal Minister for Sport visited Willetton Basketball Association last week after the local member tried to persuade Canberra to fund a major expansion.

Minister Greg Hunt and Member for Tangney Ben Morton visited the stadium on August 1 and Mr Morton said he was hopeful he could acquire $5.5 million in funding for the club to develop facilities including new playing courts, change rooms and health services.

Mr Hunt could not confirm funding on the day but said Mr Morton’s campaign had not gone unnoticed.

“It won’t happen overnight,” Mr Hunt said.

“It’s about being persistent, but it’s not impossible.”

Mr Hunt said he had spoken to Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison who also recognised how much Mr Morton wanted federal support for the club.

The $5.5 million in federal funding Mr Morton is after would be about half the cost of the entire upgrade.

Mr Morton’s office said the cost could be less because of Western Australia’s economic downturn and WBA said it hoped the remaining funding would come from club fundraising, the City of Canning and the state government.

The stadium was built in 1985 and the association has eyed upgrades since the early 1990s.

The association has more than 400 junior and senior teams and about 3500 players, but because of space a lengthy waiting list exists for juniors wanting to join.

Mr Morton said being a new member made it harder to get an agenda across in Canberra but he was determined to get funding for the association.

“I have to get people like the minister to have a look to build a case to get the money,” he said.

“It was not on the Federal Government’s radar 15 months ago, these issues take time to progress.

“Hopefully this will be a rollercoaster worth riding.”

Sport is linked to numerous benefits to the community including combatting childhood obesity and a decrease in substance abuse and use of illicit drugs.

The State Government also said sports and recreation has positive effects on youth offending, reduces pressure on the health system and improves mental health.

Before the state election then-premier Colin Barnett said if the Liberal Party was re-elected it would provide $3.5 million to support the development.

However that plan was scrapped when Labor won and the state government has not made any commitments to the project.

State Treasurer Ben Wyatt and Minister for Sport and Recreation Mick Murray were contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.