RESOLVING the future of Wade Park will be central to any plans to build a major new sporting facility in Orange but its role is far from clear.
Last year Orange City Council re-turfed the surface of the facility regarded as one of the best cricket venues in regional NSW, but it remains a poor venue to host many winter sports.
An oval which was once home to greyhound racing, its aging grandstand is a long way from the sideline when rugby league or union is played and its changerooms and VIP guest facilities are just not up to scratch.
While it has hosted visiting international rugby teams and NRL games, competition from modern rectangular fields like Glen Willow in Mudgee mean hosting these important televised events will become less and less likely.
The problem identified by the Friends of Wade Park is that while the city wrestles with where to build a new sports complex, Wade Park falls further behind and government funding for a new venture becomes less likely.
Wade Park’s supporters argue that in the current climate of budget austerity, it might be more realistic to spend money on upgrading Wade Park than hope for the millions of dollars more in grants which would be necessary to build a sporting complex with a modern rectangular field.
The dilemma is how much to spend on a Wade Park whose future role is uncertain.
Is it wise to spend several million dollars on a venue which has next to no parking and whose use would probably be limited to AFL and cricket?
These are questions which council’s sport and recreation committee needs to consider in consultation with The Friends of Wade Park.
The one certainty is that funding won’t be found unless there is a long-term plan with Wade Park’s strategic role agreed by all parties.