An artists impression of the Fraser Coast Sports Precinct. AEC Group will prepare the business plan for the project.
An artists impression of the Fraser Coast Sports Precinct. AEC Group will prepare the business plan for the project. Contributed

SPORT PRECINCT: Business plan reveals cost could balloon

THE cost of the Fraser Coast Sport Precinct could balloon out to $75 million over the project's 15-year, five-stage development, with a major sport stadium to be possibly built at the complex.

The long-awaited business case released on Tuesday revealed two separate design options, one with the construction of a commercial clubhouse, the other a 10,000 person stadium to host major sporting games and competitions.

The report claims the Sport Precinct would inject about $48 million into the Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gympie and North Burnett economies each year, if the stadium were to be built.

CEO Ken Diehm explains situation with the Sport Precinct: Fraser Coast council CEO Ken Diehm explains the situation behind the Sport Precinct, with a business plan for the project expected to go to Wednesday's meeting.

If council proceeds with the current plan without the stadium, the report said the region would only benefit from about $12.8 million per year.

The $50,000 business plan, developed by consulting company AEC Group reveals a considerable increase in cost from the originally touted $50 million project.

Fraser Coast council CEO Ken Diehm reassured the community that ratepayers would not be expected to bear the cost of the precinct, telling the Chronicle he hoped "State and Federal Governments would come on board and help fund the costs".

It is the latest development in the controversial project's lifetime, and is expected to be a central topic at today's Fraser Coast council meeting in Burrum Heads.

Once constructed, the facilities at the Sport Precinct will include two AFL grounds, 10 football fields with one A-league standard field, 20 netball courts, an indoor sport centre, four full-size and one half-size rugby league fields, two synthetic turf and three grass hockey fields, 20 tennis courts and satellite hubs that include clubhouses, kiosks, change rooms and amenities.

An artists impression of the Fraser Coast Sports Precinct. AEC Group will prepare the business plan for the project.
An artists impression of the Fraser Coast Sports Precinct. AEC Group will prepare the business plan for the project. Contributed

Mr Diehm said the economic impact of the project "far outweighs the cost associated with it".

"We would hope State and Federal Governments would come on board... as we would not be able to proceed with finalisation of the Sport Precinct without their support," Mr Diehm said.

"It is not our expectation those costs will not be borne by the community, it will be a partnership approach with those levels of government.

"It is not intended to be wholly funded by the council.

"Some of the national sporting codes have also indicated a willingness to contribute to the infrastructure costs."

Mr Diehm said the precinct would deliver social benefits to the community "which can't be expressed in dollars".

Last Friday, he said sporting clubs in Hervey Bay were in "crisis condition" due to a lack of adequate facilities. At least three sporting organisations, including Hervey Bay's netball, football and OzTag groups, are in negotiations for using the Sport Precinct's fields in February next year.

Glenn Hanson on the Sport Precinct: Hervey Bay Oztag's Glenn Hanson explains why the Sport Preicnct is so important to the local club

Councillor Denis Chapman said he was disappointed with the draft business plan.

While reiterating he was "not against sport" or taking a negative stance against the project, he said it was hard for financial estimates to be given without detailed concept plans.

"It's taken over two years to get this plan, and there's no real substance in it," Cr Chapman said.

"They say it will generate $48 million back into the community every year - who's liable if it doesn't happen?

"This project could even blow out another 20 per cent".