Nationals WA candidate for Bunbury James Hayward has promised to push for a much-needed upgrade of Hands Oval should he be elected at the March 2017 state election.
Mr Hayward said the development forms part of his plan for Bunbury in the hope of attracting an AFL game to the South West.
“An overhaul of the outdated South West Football League and South Bunbury Football Club buildings is well overdue,” he said.
“This new stadium could provide a modern football facility for the South West which will help attract WAFL and AFL games to the region.”
The buildings are believed to have been opened in 1954 and have fallen into a very poor state of repair.
Mr Hayward said $15 million in funding to improve the facility should cater for modern change rooms, corporate boxes, function rooms, bars, offices for sports administration and a new gym area.
“We’ve seen that when you maintain and fund a facility like the Bunbury Turf Club or the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre, major events will follow,” Mr Hayward said. “These facilities bring visitors to the region and enhance the lives of people living in Bunbury.”
Mr Hayward said another recent to push for the development of Hands Oval was the increasing popularity of women’s football.
‘Women’s participation in football has soared across Australia over the last 12 months and the current facilities do not reflect this,” he said. “We can support that growth by ensuring we have modern facilities and a comfortable environment for new players.
“Football is a big part of the South West and with the SWFL being the most successful country league in the state – it is important we invest in making sure we truly represent its value and importance.”
Mr Hayward said the stadium would be the first stage of his vision to deliver a Sports Excellence Precinct developed at Hands Oval, along with a comprehensive plan for the future of football in the South West.
“Stage two and three of the development would include redeveloping Bunbury Football Club and Carey Park Football Club,” he said. “We will also look to work with the City of Bunbury to develop the land bordering Hands Oval.”
Nationals WA candidate for Collie-Preston Monique Warnock said plans to invest in South West football are important as the league embraces a number of local, regional towns.
“With teams from Collie to Augusta, it is important we invest in football’s future,” she said. “I look forward to talking to clubs in the shires of Dardanup, Collie and Donnybrook about the benefits a new stadium could bring them.”