What's the plan?

BARREN: Whyalla Hockey Association President Tony Appleyard wants to know more about council's future plans for sport in Whyalla. He is pictured on the second grass pitch which has fallen into disrepair.
BARREN: Whyalla Hockey Association President Tony Appleyard wants to know more about council's future plans for sport in Whyalla. He is pictured on the second grass pitch which has fallen into disrepair.

Whyalla Hockey Association President Tony Appleyard is calling on the Whyalla City Council to provide more details on their plan for other sports outside of the Bennett Oval Master Plan bubble.

Mr Appleyard says the WHA remains stuck in limbo regarding their ambitions to have a new multi-sport synthetic pitch installed at the hockey grounds, having failed to secure necessary funding from the Whyalla City Council or the state government.

But his chief concern is the lack of a wider plan for a sports precinct in Whyalla, which the Whyalla News understands is still being finalised by council.

"After 10 years, we still don't have a sporting precinct that we are in," Mr Appleyard said.

"We have nowhere to go - we can't expand our area to fit a second pitch in. One thing the state government like to see when you go for a grant is that it's part of a bigger community sport plan.

"We'd love to see the sporting precinct plan for our area. If they see us in that area in the future, why haven't they got a plan?"

The WHA approached council in December requesting financial support of $600,000, an extension to their land lease area for the new pitch, sponsorship to the amount of $12,000 and carpark lighting.

During their final council meeting for 2019 the elected body passed a recommendation to reject three of the proposals and investigate whether carpark lighting between the hockey grounds and the dog park could be funded in the 2020/21 budget.

The $600,000 would have formed part of the cost of the $2.1 million project, with the WHA investing $500,000, and applying for a $1 million grant from the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing.

The second pitch would allow for more games to be played within a shorter period of time during the day, taking some of the load off of volunteers.

Mr Appleyard said it was great to see council investing $2.8 million into the redevelopment of Bennett Oval, because it was a 'much needed' boost for football.

"What we don't see is the whole sporting precinct plan...you don't need to tell me how you're going to fund it but I'd hate to see the water turned off after the AFL match and have the players go back to a poor surface," he said.

Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin said council was 'very keen' to establish a multiple-sport precinct - but the timeline was dependent on many different factors and stakeholders.

"We are working with sporting clubs and organisations to establish the city's sporting needs and the State Government on land use and a significant financial commitment similar to that achieved by Port Pirie and Port Augusta," she said.

"We applaud the Hockey Association and its members for their vision and plans but, considering these sporting precinct negotiations, we are unable to commit to their land-use and financial requests at this point in time."

Ms McLaughlin said the Edward John Eyre High School site would be a good central location for a sporting precinct but was situated on state government land.

"Council is working with the State Government around the availability of this land as a result of the new school development," she said.