ONE of the major players in the push for Orange to construct a purpose-built rectangular stadium has welcomed news Orange City Council is in the final stages of securing land to house the precinct.
Alongside Orange CYMS president Ray Agland, former Orange Hawks boss Gary Norton put forward a $30 million proposal in July, 2012 in response to council’s call for submissions for the Wade Park Masterplan.
The proposal was radical, detailing the sale of Wade Park - the home of sport in Orange for the last 150 years - while also moving a licensed club, in this case Newstead Bowling Club, to a new stadium to help fund the venture.
As mentioned, it was radical.
But the plan has had its desired effect.
And now the purpose-built-rectangular-field ball is well and truly rolling.
“Wade Park would have been great as a dedicated rectangular stadium,” Norton said, before heading down a similar track he and Agland hammered last year.
“And it’ll upset some people but council needs to think of the community as a whole and the best business model in this case is to sell Wade Park with the idea of helping fund this green fields site.”
A green fields site that’ll set Orange apart from the rest.
The concept Norton believes council will follow is similar to the one Mudgee used in building it’s “sporting mecca” at Glen Willow.
The 1008-seat stadium, six neighbouring fields, 12 netball courts, flood lighting, car parking bays and two amenities blocks has the Mudgee community sitting on top of the central west sporting landscape in terms of facilities.
Norton believes Glen Willow, a $14 million multi-field precinct, is a fantastic complex, but sees little use in erecting a copycat here in Orange.
“There’s no point in repeating what’s been done in Mudgee, that’ll only mean we share the spoils with them and someone eventually will come over the top of us,” Norton said, with Mudgee’s 10,000 population well short of Orange’s estimated 40,000.
“If we’re going to get serious about it, we need a complex that’ll set Orange up for the next 10 to 20 years.”
And to do that, Norton said it’s time to think big.
On the land council plans to purchase as a green fields site, Norton would build a stadium with a 14,000 capacity, 6,000 of which will be seated.
It would boast a big screen, have the stadium plug and play ready for television, function rooms overlooking the ground, broadcasting rooms and a restaurant.
There would be other fields incorporated outside of the main field, as well as indoor bowling greens - also plug and play ready - and office space, possibly playing home to Country Rugby League officials.
In all, the $30 million mark is again floated by Norton.
Before choking on your cornflakes, consider the argument for starting the new or re-invigorating the old.
Dubbo’s Apex Oval has, since its main stadium was built, endeavoured to upgrade several aspects of The Bruce Neads Memorial Grandstand - opened in 2005 - to keep in touch with its opposition.
The media and coaching boxes are next in line for an upgrade.
Apex was also the beneficiary of an $11.5 million project to build a 12 megalitre stormwater reservoir beneath a brand new surface.
That’s a hefty price to pay to keep in touch.
Still not convinced?
Already a premier ground in the Riverina, Wagga Wagga’s Robertson Oval has received $7 million investment from council in a bid to use the venue for all manner of major events, including a failed bid to host the 2014 City-Country Origin game.
Robertson Oval, however, suffers from the same affliction as Wade Park - its oval shape means spectators at rugby league, union and football games are a long way from the action.
Is $7 million worth it? That’s a massive amount of money for little to no guarantee of a return.
Upgrading can nearly be as costly as starting anew.
And Wade Park is older than each of the aforementioned venues.
The push to ensure Orange’s purpose-built rectangular stadium is done well and done right the first time has weight behind it.
“Orange has demonstrated it will respond,” Norton said, referring to the 5,000-strong crowd at the Group 10 grand final.