HIGHLIGHTING both the economic and social benefits escaping the city, Orange City councillor Jason Hamling says the time has come to get serious about a purpose-built rectangular sporting precinct in Orange.
The Penrith Panthers last week penned a deal that’ll see the chocolate soldiers play one NRL game a season for the next five at Bathurst’s Carrington Park.
The Panthers’ move comes just 12 months after Parramatta took a regular season game to Mudgee’s Glen Willow Sporting Complex - a $14 million development the Mudgee Regional Council is cashing in on.
Mudgee mayor Des Kennedy has been quoted as saying last year’s Parramatta fixture netted the town’s economy nearly $2 million and with Bathurst the latest central west centre set to benefit from the NRL’s move west, Cr Hamling says Orange can’t afford to sit idly by.
“The NRL are looking to bring games to country areas and Orange is missing out on not only the games but also the economic benefits,” he said, with council announcing in September they were in the process of buying land to house a rectangular sporting precinct.
“We don’t have a rectangular field to offer,” Cr Hamling continued.
“For a regional city the size of Orange I think we need a rectangular field complex.”
Dubbo, too, will enjoy the economic benefits of big-time sport in May when the 2014 City-Country representative match heads to Apex Oval.
But soon, complexes at Mudgee, Bathurst and Dubbo won’t be the only hurdles Orange has to clear in order to bid for any form of sport preferably hosted by rectangular grounds.
Wagga Wagga is looking at upgrading its main league ground, the Equex Centre, and Tamworth is in the process of debating the future of the iconic Scully Park in order to match the likes of Mudgee.
Cr Hamling said a new field would take the pressure off Jack Brabham Park and Waratah Sportsground and would be used by other sports besides rugby league, adding a sure-fire way to make the ground a standout option was building it plug-and-play ready.
“To have a rectangular field you need media capabilities,” he said.