East-west link: Moreland sports clubs cry for a fair go

Melbourne Times: East-west link: Moreland sports clubs cry for a fair go. Virginia Millen. 20 August 2014

Sporting clubs in the inner north are struggling to access sporting grounds amid fears the east-west link will worsen the situation.

Brunswick Zebras soccer club president Carlo Carli said the quality of grounds and the relocation of teams from Princes Park, which is being upgraded, has put more pressure on sporting facilities in the municipalities.

While local councils do what they can to upgrade sporting grounds, Mr Carli said the looming east-west link would place an even greater strain on clubs throughout the inner north, with the project taking out 16 per cent of the sporting grounds from Royal Park.

“At the time we’re in most need of grounds we’re potentially seeing a major decline of the number of grounds,” he said.

The state government last year announced a $15-million package for affected sports clubs and facilities to be upgraded as part of the east-west project.

Mr Carli also said some of the existing grounds simply are not up to scratch. The Zebras have about 400 members who play in Moreland and Melbourne each week.

“We flow into the City of Melbourne, so technically we would have enough grounds. But because there are problems with quality, we end up really stretched in terms of the grounds we can access,” he said.

The University of Melbourne Baseball Club president Vibeke Pedersen said her club would play its last games on Ross Straw Field in Parkville this Sunday before moving to the Essendon Baseball Club grounds for the next five years. She said the exhibition match against the Westgarth Baseball Club would include past players, coaches and umpires.

Ms Pedersen said Ross Straw Field, which was Victoria’s first purpose-built baseball diamond,, will be rendered unfit for play due to the east-west link works.

Moreland Council recently released its sports grounds management and maintenance policy for public consultation. The policy aims to ensure sports grounds are managed sustainably and appropriately used.

Cr Oscar Yildiz, responsible for recreation and leisure in Moreland, said he thought the council had planned appropriately.

“I think we have enough grounds to cater for the level of participation,” he said.

“But we need to have more money invested in that area for the future. The record shows that our grounds can be better.”

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