DOES Orange need a purpose-built, rectangular sporting complex?
The debate is not new, and has polarised the local sporting and wider community for years.
The short answer is yes, we do need such a facility.
A state-of-the-art, multiple field complex would give Orange the chance to once again host elite rugby league, rugby union, soccer and touch football events, along with regional, state and national junior and senior competitions and championships.
The economic boosts for towns which have similar facilities - Mudgee, Dubbo and Bathurst - are well documented.
Now that Orange City Council has confirmed it passed a resolution to purchase land for such a venue, the project seems to be a certainty - assuming the necessary funding can be attained.
This bodes well for sport in Orange, but raises a question - would it mean sacrificing Wade Park, Orange’s sporting mecca for over 150 years?
Councillors say no, and one would hope not.
The fact is, Orange can’t afford to have one or the other. We need both.
Wade Park’s surface has been upgraded and is now one of the best in the NSW country region. The new scoreboard is fully functional, and the ground would only need upgrades to its existing infrastructure to revitalise it, and bring it up to scratch.
With rugby league - and let’s face it, it’s a horrible ground to watch league at - played elsewhere, developing Wade Park as a cricket and AFL ground would provide the opportunity to host Big Bash League cricket trials or regular season games, Ryobi Cup games or NAB Cup pre-season and Giants’ North Eastern AFL games.
NSW Cricket has previously expressed its interest in the ground, and the amount of money certain AFL organisations are rumoured to be willing to invest in the western area is astronomical.
The question is how much money Orange City Council is willing to put into both projects.
While this might be an idealistic view, if the two faculties were coupled, Orange has the potential to become the sporting capital of not just the western region, but the entire NSW Country area.
It’s just a matter of getting the balance right.