Centre expansion a win for the community

THERE will be a lot of people in Port Lincoln and the surrounding region welcoming the news that the Port Lincoln City Council is going to go ahead with a second stage of the Port Lincoln Leisure Centre upgrade.

The Port Lincoln Basketball Association will be among the big winners with two more indoor courts and seating to be added as part of the $4.4-million expansion but there will be plenty of other sporting groups keen to make the most of the new facilities as well from indoor soccer to netball to volleyball - not to mention local schools and Squash SA, which is planning to have a presence in Port Lincoln to promote the sport to make the most of the three new squash courts.

A four-court stadium would also create opportunities to host sporting carnivals and regional competitions, providing a potential boost for the city.

The even better news is, the capital work will not cost ratepayers anything thanks to a federal election promise from Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey.

Financial forecasting by council staff and consultants predicts the upgraded and expanded leisure centre could also reduce the council’s net operating subsidy for the centre by more than $100,000, from $257,000 for the current facility to an expected $151,000 with the expanded facility.

There was a lot of debate over the numbers at Monday night’s council meeting when the decision was made, with questions raised about expected income from the expanded centre, which staff said were very conservative.

However councillor Danny Bartlett made the point that even if the figures were 50 per cent off, the council would still be saving about $50,000 a year, which is surely worth it when the capital cost is not coming out of ratepayers’ pockets.

Councillor Jim Papzoglov also said if the stadium was not expanded, sports like basketball would look to the council for another solution to cater for growth, which was likely to end up costing a lot more and would not necessarily attract government funding.

It is nice to see such important decisions being examined so closely to hopefully avoid history repeating itself because it is not the first time the council has looked to the stadium to offset pool running costs.

However it is also good to see movement on a project that will meet a big need for indoor sporting facilities for the community and support growth in local sport.

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