WADE Park should be Orange’s premier sporting ground and is badly in need of an upgrade, according to the new Friends of Wade Park group.
Councillor Kevin Duffy said recent emphasis had been on building a new sporting complex with rectangular fields, but questioned why the focus was instead not on upgrading Wade Park.
“In the current economic climate, it’s not going to happen [a new field],” he said.
“This [Wade Park] should be the premier ground in western NSW.”
Cr Duffy believes Wade Park’s facilities could be upgraded for $6-7 million, while a new ground would cost more than $20 million. He also believes state and federal grants will be difficult to access as the purse strings tightened.
“That’s out of the realm of the ratepayers of Orange,” he said.
The Friends of Wade Park group will work on ideas to make the ground more attractive to high-profile teams who want to play a match outside the metropolitan areas, including an expanded western grandstand and improved playing surface.
The group includes former test cricket umpire Darrell Hair, former cricketer and current Orange Hawks treasurer Darrel Rosser, former NRL player and Orange CYMS Rugby League captain-coach Michael Sullivan, and Orange CYMS Cricket Club president Peter Snowden.
Mr Hair said Wade Park’s change rooms needed to be expanded and replaced to accommodate AFL teams, which require the most space of all sporting codes.
He also said change facilities needed to be able to accommodate women, whose sports are growing in popularity.
Mr Sullivan suggested the eastern seating area be covered as a VIP area for players’ families, which was a necessity for NRL and higher-profile sporting games.
Orange City Council sports and recreation committee chair and councillor Jason Hamling said he supported upgrades to Wade Park, but reiterated it only offered one ground and a sporting centre with multiple fields was necessary, not only to attract big matches, but for junior sports as well.
“You can’t close your hands and say there’s no state or federal money - we should try our best to get funding,” he said.
“It might take a long time, but I would like to see us plan for a rectangular sporting field.”