Sydney Comets People Power Campaign wins first fight

Sydney Comets People Power Campaign wins first fight

The City of Sydney Comets’ campaign to reinstate funding for the Alexandria Basketball Stadium has had its first major win, with the City of Sydney Council overturning a decision to scrap funding for the upgrade.

Following a community campaign and strong lobbying from the City of Sydney Basketball Association (CSBA) and Basketball Australia, the Council has confirmed $10 million will be redirected to the Alexandria Basketball Stadium after Lord Mayor Clover Moore tried to quietly slash the funding altogether in May.

CSBA President Andrew Lazaris, who has long lobbied Council for the upgrade alongside representatives of the Indigenous and gay and lesbian communities, said the crucial first step was a win for people power.

“This is an excellent result for the people of Sydney and a direct result of our widespread public campaign to get that funding back,” Mr Lazaris said.

“We’ve seen phenomenal support from all the broad range of groups who would rely on the stadium: local residents, kids and young adults, indigenous teams, inner city public housing residents, and gay and lesbian teams.

“On behalf of the City of Sydney Basketball Association, I’d like to thank every community member who took the time to sign our petition, speak to their local Councillors, and make our voices heard.

“This $10 million is the crucial first step towards providing the sports infrastructure our local community needs, but there is more work to be done.

“The CSBA will continue to work with the Council to find path forward towards the original concept of 6 indoor multi-purpose courts and an outdoor multi-purpose synthetic field.”

The Council has committed to working with the CSBA to develop a more cost effective way of delivering the additional four basketball courts required, with advice detailing future options for the facility to be provided to Councillors by the end of the year.

The Council will also work with the CSBA to support their efforts to lobby for State and Federal Government funding, as well as private contributions, to construct an expanded stadium.

Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally praised the efforts of the 2000 City of Sydney Basketball Association members who fought for the upgrade.

“We’ve seen strong, heartening support from all corners of the community for the City of Sydney Comets’ campaign to hold the Council to its promised upgrade,” Ms Keneally said.

“The fact is this is crucial community infrastructure: the City of Sydney lags well behind other major cities and even other suburbs of Sydney when it comes to indoor stadium space - Perry Park’s two existing courts are all the City has in its entire area.

“The Council itself projected 200,000 people annually would use the upgraded stadium upon completion in 2014. You add to that the tens of thousands of new residents coming into Alexandria through the Green Square development and you can see that the City of Sydney is woefully under- serviced.

“Basketball Australia is proud of the local community for stepping up to make sure they get the sports facilities they deserve, and we’ll continue to support the Sydney Comets in pushing for more funding.”

Background Information

The current facilities at Alexandria Stadium provided by the City of Sydney Basketball Association (CSBA) are at capacity. The stadium is unable to host large metro and interstate basketball tournaments and finals series, let alone accommodate demand for a weatherproof, indoor venue for other sports.

In March 2010, Lord Mayor Clover Moore announced a $35 million brand new indoor and outdoor facility to be built by the City of Sydney Council at Perry Park, Alexandria - which was reaffirmed in further detail in August 2011.

It was proposed construction would start at the beginning of 2013 on 6 indoor multi-purpose courts and an outdoor multi-purpose synthetic field, along with a crèche, kiosk, exercise room, change rooms, public toilets, canteen, paths, lighting, playground and plants.

In June this year, Council officials confirmed to the City of Sydney Comets Perry Park upgrade would be pushed off beyond the Council’s 10-year infrastructure plan, to be deferred indefinitely.

In response, the CSBA launched a public campaign to reinstate funding, lobbying through local and metropolitan media, starting a petition and garnering support on social media. The CSBA also lobbied individual councillors, and fronted up to the City of Sydney Council Finance Committee on 17 June 2013 alongside representatives from the Indigenous and gay and lesbian communities to argue in favour of the upgrade.

At that Finance Committee meeting, Lord Mayor Clover Moore backed away from the plan to scrap the upgrade entirely and reallocated $10 million to the Alexandria Basketball Stadium, which was later ratified by a general council meeting.