Newstead Bowling Club's $3m kitty after sale of historic property

SOLD: Newstead Bowling Club chairman Gary Norton and treasurer Leo Hevers are pleased with the sale price achieved on Wednesday night. Photo: JUDE KEOGH                                                                                                                                                                                         0807newstead1

SOLD: Newstead Bowling Club chairman Gary Norton and treasurer Leo Hevers are pleased with the sale price achieved on Wednesday night. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0807newstead1

A NEW home for Newstead Bowling Club members could be up to 18 months away, depending on how the club chooses to spend the proceeds of Wednesday night’s sale.

Club chairman Gary Norton said the club could use the proceeds, in excess of $3 million, to build indoor greens by Easter, but it wanted to investigate a more ambitious option to build state-of-the-art greens capable of hosting national and international bowls competitions with the help of federal funding.

The larger scale option could take up to 18 months.

“Once we get [a prestigious] event the first time, we will be in the running to have them on an ongoing basis, so it’s not a one-trick pony,” he said.

“For a couple of years, the average age of the Australian men’s bowls team was younger than the average age of the Australian cricket team - everyone thinks bowls is an old game, but it’s certainly not.”

Two possible ways forward will be investigated in the coming months.

Mr Norton said the club could pursue a merger with another club and said there were three shortlisted candidates, including a golf club, a football club or another bowling club - they will be reduced to two in the coming month.

He said equal voting rights, the right to stand for the board and recognition of life members would be pursued for any amalgamation.

Another option would involve becoming part of Orange City Council’s mooted major sporting facility, with a meeting yet to be held.

“It would be built ready with TV broadcasting, which is what these national events are about - the likelihood of attracting these events would be exceptionally high,” Mr Norton said.

“If the council is 10-15 years away, I don’t believe Newstead can sit on its hands - whether the council is prepared to bring the processes forward is yet to be seen.”

Settlement will occur in January to allow closure for the members. 

If an amalgamation is pursued, the club will move straight to the new premises in January, however if the council project is the preferred option, Mr Norton said the club had in-principle support from the two other bowling clubs to move to one of them temporarily.

Emotional decision to sell

ABOUT 60 of Newstead Bowling Club’s members voted unanimously to sell the homestead and bowling facilities for $3,447,500 on Wednesday night.

While the club has no outstanding debt, the figure will be reduced to about $3,060,000 once GST and legal and transfer costs from the sale of the 8300-square metre property are paid.

Club chairman Gary Norton said the decision to sell had been an emotional one for the members, but applause broke out after the vote.

“The feeling is strong, but there’s excitement as well,” he said.

While the buyer remains confidential, Mr Norton said they were based in Orange.

“We do realise, and the members realise, there will be development over the grounds, but both the building and the big tree are heritage listed, so the members are comfortable that they’re not going to be knocked down,” he said. “We believe that it will be housing with a little bit more prestige.”

Mr Norton anticipated the price had set a record for residential land sales in Orange.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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