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Over One Million To Park Plan

By Mark Beale

Sporting clubs around the Whitsundays rejoiced on Tuesday as Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen announced $1.9 million in funding for the Whitsunday Sportspark Precinct Redevelopment.

While the money relies on the LNP being re-elected, it is still a step in the right direction for the project, which now has preliminary approval from the Federal Government and a $750,000 commitment from Whitsunday Regional Council.

More than 800 players take part in soccer, rugby union, touch football, Aussie rules and netball at the sportspark.

Justin Butler, president of Whitsunday Sportspark Inc, said they would soon find out whether they were successful in obtaining a Queensland Government Get Playing Plus Grant for $1.5 million.

Either way there are hopes the federal funding will kickstart the plan.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve identified the need for a lot more playing fields in Airlie Beach for our growing population and also the need for better facilities for sports tourism for the national sides that want to come up here for exhibition games,” Mr Butler said.

“It’s a sensational result for the sports people and children of Airlie Beach.”

Sports tourism is big on the agenda with hopes that a redeveloped facility could attract a team like the Brisbane Broncos or North Queensland Cowboys to Airlie Beach.

Mr Christensen said it was an “economic stimulus”.

“Hosting state carnivals, regional competitions – that is now going to become a reality for the Whitsundays. It’s a tourist town and this will bring in more tourists. That’s why this sort of stuff is important for regional communities,” he said.

With a decision expected from the State Goverment as early as next week, Mr Butler said they were hopeful any further commitments would allow them to proceed with the first stages of the redevelopment. This would provide a second rectangular field and a new, single storey clubhouse would replace the old one.

Mr Butler said even if the state funding did not come, they would still look at proceeding with the redevelopment but with an altered design.

SOURCE: WHITSUNDAY TIMES

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