The Willetton basketball association (WBA) called on candidates in the upcoming City of Canning election to support its $15 million expansion plans for the at-capacity stadium in a bid to secure federal funding for the project.
Grants of up to $10 million were available under the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s national stronger regions fund (NSRF) but they required other stakeholder funding commitments.
The WBA would provide between $500,000 to $1 million to expand the stadium by five indoor courts but its needed the city to commit between $2 million and $3 million for the application to be successful.
The city was reviewing all strategic projects including the stadium expansion following the cancellation of local government reform.
WBA president Phil Nixon said round three applications to the NSRF were due by December and he wanted the incoming councillors to make a funding commitment before then.
“We spoke to the NSRF in May and they were enthusiastic about it, you can bank enthusiasm, I know, but they were delighted with what we were planning to submit,” he said.
“Conditional on that though we had to have unconditional commitment from ourselves, from state government and from the local government.
“Our challenge is with the council being the way that it is they won’t commit in the current format and they’ll wait until the new council is formed.
“It will take the council to then advise the executive to say ‘we’re changing our priorities’ and hopefully they will instruct council to support this as a priority.
“We’ve decided as a board we’re going to help make this an issue during the election and we’re encouraging all those ratepayers…to support those candidates who support the stadium.”
Canning chief executive Lyn Russell said at the time WBA notified the city of the expansion plans, budget allocations for 2015-16 year had been finalised.
She said the review of the project was necessary following the cancellation of the reform agenda but said it could come before the new council in the future to be reassessed.
Member for Riverton Mike Nahan said he was keen to help obtain both state and federal government funding but financial support from the city was crucial.
“Now that the WBA has completed its expansion feasibility study, it is critical that the City of Canning supports this project and I call on all prospective councillors to show their support,” he said.
“The WBA is an icon of the community and the Tigers are a successful juggernaut in Perth’s basketball scene.”
The stadium has been at capacity for more than a decade and WBA had been forced to rent courts away from the stadium to support the huge uptake of basketball.
A recent feasibility study undertaken by the association found the junior teams playing had increased by 52 per cent to 307 teams in the past 10 years while the number of seniors teams had increased by 25 per cent.
The study also found if the stadium increased by five courts it could support up to 8400 players by 2023 compared to its current membership of 3630.