A major refurbishment of Newcastle’s No.1 Sportsground grandstand has been proposed transforming the facility into an elite level sporting venue.

City of Newcastle has applied for a $5 million grant from the NSW Government to complete the project.

The staged works include an increase in the footprint of the existing grandstand with a two-storey addition at the rear of the building providing upgraded amenities for players, officials and spectators. 

Other upgrades include increasing the size of the playing field to achieve the minimum standard required for a first grade AFL match, constructing seven new cricket wickets and re-building the entire playing surface with a new sub-soil irrigation and drainage system. 

New sight screens, player dug-out benches and oval fencing will also improve the playing experience. 

The current proposed construction is the second stage of the overall redevelopment of No.1 Sportsground, which began with a major upgrade of the playing facilities, lighting and seating capacity. 

Stage one included the installation of six new 40 metre light poles and upgraded lighting to 750 lux.

The increased electrical conduit allows for a further increase in lux level if required for televised night-time fixtures.

Upgraded amenities seek to attract sporting fixtures such as trial Big Bash League and trial AFL fixtures. Image source: City of Newcastle

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said a refurbished grandstand would be the icing on the cake to attract first-class cricket and AFL matches to Newcastle’s inner-city sportsground. 

“With the first stage of the redevelopment approaching its end, City of Newcastle is turning its attention to the design and funding arrangements for the next phase, which will deliver premium-level facilities that will not only benefit local users but allow Newcastle to attract even more major sporting events to the city,” Cr Nelmes said. 

She said City of Newcastle was committed to the future of the facility and the wider National Park recreational precinct.

“We have already invested more than $7 million into the redevelopment of No.1 Sportsground and have recently submitted a $5 million grant application to the Multi-Sport Facility Fund through the NSW Government to complete the works,” Cr Nelmes said.

“If successful, that funding will allow us to deliver the regional sporting facility our community deserves, which is capable of hosting elite-level AFL and cricket matches.” 

Chair of City of Newcastle’s Infrastructure Advisory Committee Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said the concept designs included a range of benefits for both spectators and players. 

“Concept designs prepared for City of Newcastle with input from both Cricket NSW and AFL NSW/ACT illustrate our grand plans for this site, with the ground floor featuring new universal player facilities, dedicated spaces for team doctors and medical staff and upgraded rooms for match officials,” Cr Winney-Baartz said 

The new grandstand includes upgraded universal player facilities, dedicated spaces for medical staff and upgraded rooms for match officials. Image source: City of Newcastle.

“The building’s new second storey will provide a panoramic view over the sportsground, with floor-to-ceiling windows running the entire length of a multipurpose community function room and team viewing areas, while commercial kitchen facilities will open up a range of opportunities never previously available at this venue. 

 “Upgraded public toilets will also improve the amenity for spectators, complementing the extended concrete bleacher seating constructed during the first phase of the redevelopment, which has almost doubled the ground’s current seated capacity.”

While wet La Niña weather conditions and COVID-19 supply chain issues have extended the stage one construction phase, work is now nearing completion with sporting teams expected to be back on the pitch following a final growing-in period for the existing turf. 

The facility’s last significant upgrade was in 1989 after the original timber grandstand sustained major structural damage in the Newcastle Earthquake.

The sportsground was officially opened on September 16 1922, with the proposed upgrade coinciding with its centenary.

Information source: City of Newcastle

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