A capacity crisis threatens to limit the growth of indoor sport in the Manning Valley.
Saxby’s Stadium in Taree is the home of basketball, it is owned by Taree Basketball Association but representative players train off site and a new competition is based at Taree PCYC because there is no capacity for players to access stadium facilities. The floor space is booked and basketball is now in a contest with netball, futsal, schools and community events for stadium time.
Paul Healy is the man who must juggle the competing demands – it’s a problem he is happy to have as it is transforming the association’s financial position – but he says there are limits to what he can offer the community as there are only two courts and seven days in a week.
He is excited by the growing demand for stadium time and says the Mid Coast’s hockey contingent is keen for an indoor competition in Taree and is looking to the stadium as a venue.
Paul says the community is driving demand for indoor sport development in the sporting precinct and believes it is time for the association and government to work together to secure serious dollars to expand and transform the stadium into a modern multi-purpose facility.
Paul says the association is keen to support the NSW government in its campaign to tackle childhood obesity and sees investment in the expansion of Saxby’s Stadium as an effective use of taxpayer dollars to support that objective.
“It would help with all the things that are emerging as problems in our community – obesity, diabetes, we need to get people up and moving and get them away from screens, sitting down on their couches, watching TV and I think that’s what the facility would do if it was doubled.
The duplication of Saxby’s Stadium would get us all moving.Paul Healy
He knows how to get people moving – the association has boosted its junior membership base by more than 150 per cent in five years and its general membership growth is up over 100 per cent in the same period. Its impact on the association’s bottom line is impressive – the surplus has risen from more than $6000 in 2012 to more than $62,000 in 2016. There is momentum building in the growth of basketball in the region; for the first time the association supported eight junior representative teams in the Northern NSW Junior League competition and one team in the NSW Country Premier League.
Paul says “the time is right for government investment in infrastructure” and knows “politicians like shovel-ready projects.” He is now working with a team that is costing a multi-purpose facility. Architectural plans are drawn and Paul is optimistic that local, State and federal government representatives will want to deliver dollars to the project that he predicts will require between $3 million and $5 million.
“The Manning Valley and now the MidCoast Council area is crying out for a facility like the one we propose for the region. It wouldn’t just be used by people in Taree as we already have people coming from Gloucester and Forster to play basketball in our facility and futsal has the same situation, so it would be a MidCoast Council asset.”
Paul acknowledges the State government is matching the association’s investment of $26,000 in the stadium floor refurbishment dollar-for-dollar but says “it will lift the look but not boost its capacity.”
The association is realistic about its campaign for cash and will seek the support of State member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead and federal member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie.
“Saxby’s Stadium sits on council land but everything you see has been put there by Taree Basketball Association without much contribution from council because it has never had much money – it struggles to fix potholes little own contribute to anything else!
“The association has done a good service to our community by providing it with a multi-purpose venue without the pain and suffering we had to go through to get it built.”
Paul is hopeful the government will see the need to invest in the stadium – more than 3000 people each week walk through its doors and the conversations are consistent – the stadium needs to be bigger and the community deserves better facilities.