City stands firm on indoor sports centre instead of pool

February 29, 2024 BY

City of Greater Geelong chief executive Ali Wastie. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

THE City of Greater Geelong has continued its advocacy for a new regional indoor sports and events centre (RISEC) for the region.

Chief executive Ali Wastie earlier this month told the state government’s inquiry into the cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games that the centre was required to meet the region’s “surging interest in basketball and netball”.

At the time of the cancellation of the Games in July last year, the state government pledged to move ahead with $2 billion worth of legacy projects.

In Geelong, these projects included a community sports complex at Waurn Ponds, an aquatic centre at Armstrong Creek and an upgrade of the Stead Park Hockey Centre in Corio.

The RISEC would replace the Armstrong Creek aquatic centre.

“The delivery of a regionally recognised netball and basketball venue has been a long-held priority for the City,” Ms Wastie said.

“There are over 10,000 netballers in the region and over 8,500 registered basketballers in Geelong and 11,500 in the G21 region.

“Approximately 10 per cent of the population of the region participate in either netball or basketball and both sports are growing.”

The proposal remains a point of contention between the city and the state government.

“It is true that the City of Greater Geelong and the state government have not always been fully aligned in the past,” Ms Wastie said.

“We have been upfront that this region’s priority has been securing the future-proof RISEC over the Armstrong Creek aquatic centre at this time.

“We’ve continued the conversation with the state government, and we do acknowledge that state government’s commitment to honour its promise to the region on the aquatic centre.

Ms Wastie told the committee that planning completed by the city had determined Armstrong Creek residents already had sufficient access to nearby swimming pools, and the planned aquatic centre risked cannibalising their success.

Several existing and planned aquatic facilities are situated within proximity to the proposed Armstrong Creek site, including three within 15km (Kardinia, Waurn Ponds, Moolap) and two within 20km (Ocean Grove and Norlane).

The region will also be serviced by the proposed $46 million Surf Coast Aquatic and Health Centre in Torquay.

Ms Wastie said the city would face annual operation costs of up to $5 million should the facility at Armstrong Creek go ahead.

These funds, she suggested, would have to be redirected from other projects.

“That’s why we have to be really careful when we do go for these opportunities, that we’re able to continue to fund all of our assets…otherwise it’s not setting Geelong up for success.

“We’re in a rate-capped environment, so we have had discussions about what we’re not going to deliver, what we need to stop doing.”