Community consultations underway as Council seeks to upgrade Gordon Street Oval

Posted Thursday 18 February, 02:55pm

All eyes are on Gordon St Recreation Reserve this week as Ararat Rural City Council released design plans that will make it a top sporting venue for western Victoria. 


The multi-million redevelopment of the reserve provides new playing fields and surfaces for AFL Women’s, Soccer, Cricket and Little Athletics. In addition to the sports upgrade is a major new pavilion, which includes world-class female friendly change rooms and multi-code club facilities, plus a major social space with kitchen and bar.


Council CEO Dr Tim Harrison said the push for redevelopment came from conversations with clubs in the community who were looking for a permanent home. 


 “Sport is the lifeblood for every town in Ararat Rural City but some clubs simply don’t have access to the facilities they need to grow,” said Dr Harrison.


“The key elements of this project are looking at how we can build a new facility that is clearly about AFLW and not seeing AFLW as a secondary or subsidiary game. This facility will give the sport the prominence it deserves in the community.


“The centrepiece of the redevelopment is to provide a home ground for Ararat Storm Female Football Club by creating an AFLW centre of excellence.”


Community Consultations for Gordon St Oval took place on 16 February with local sporting clubs including Ararat Storm, Chalambar Cricket Club and Grampians Cricket Association, Little Athletics and St Andrews Cricket Club. 


This round of community consultations follows a co-design process that Council undertook with local club presidents and state sporting associations. The design of the project represents the feedback and in-depth conversations to identify the needs of local clubs to establish a premier sporting facility that’s inclusive for a broad range of people of different ages and abilities in the community. 


“In response to the Victorian ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, we moved our community consultation online,” continued Mr Harrison. 


“Having one-on-one workshops with local clubs allowed Council to consider ideas and suggestions of facility upgrades that would best serve our local clubs.


“Each of the playing ovals and pitches are designed to align with the preferred facilities guidelines for each respective sporting code, in addition to the expectations of local clubs, user groups and state sporting associations.


“Other precinct upgrades will also include a new soccer-playing pitch, a junior soccer pitch, cricket turf pitches, a running track and track field infrastructure for Little Athletics, in addition to a brand-new state of the art pavilion. Everyone aims to benefit.


“The turf on the oval is in great shape but we’re aiming to extend the north end of the field to adhere to AFL Victoria’s preferred size for State League facilities.


“The response from the consultations have been extremely positive – the clubs understand the significance behind the project and I’m proud to see our community work together to create an iconic sporting facility,” said Dr Harrison.


AFL Victorian Regional Manager for Wimmera Mallee Jason Muldoon continued, “The upgrade at Gordon St precinct will be a game-changer for female football, not only in the region but for the whole South-West region.”


“This facility will give every female footballer in the region the best opportunity to follow their dreams of playing in the AFLW,” adds Muldoon.


“Ararat is geographically in the middle of the GWV Rebels recruiting zone, this upgrade allows development and talented pathways games to be played in Ararat.”


With the support of AFL Victoria, Football Victoria, Jaala Pulford MP and local sporting clubs, Ararat Rural City are seeking to secure additional funding from the State to deliver the entire project. This includes transforming the existing oval into an elite AWFL regional level facility. 


“Ararat City Council has been invited to apply for funding in the second round of the Community Sports Infrastructure Stimulus program – this is our best chance to get the entire redevelopment done,” said Mr Harrison.


“A $2.65 million grant would make a world of difference for our region – this funding from the State Government would accomplish in a year what would normally take a decade.


“It’s ambitious but we want to see Ararat become regional Victoria’s official home of AFLW football and hopefully achieve state significance,” concluded Dr Tim.