A DERELICT block next to the Tamworth Sports Dome has emerged as the front-runner for the future home of a football stadium in the city.
A well-placed council source told The Leader yesterday while Federation Park in Taminda was also being touted as a possible site, the Longyard block – adjacent to the hockey fields – was “far more likely”.
It comes as Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray refused to rule out selling off “under-utilised public land” to help bankroll a 6000-seat stadium, estimated to cost close to $10 million.
He said while work would not start in this term of council, the ultimate decision on whether a stadium was built would rest with the community.
“If the community doesn’t believe it’s a good venture, it won’t progress,” Cr Murray said.
“But if they do, we need to develop costings and a funding strategy.
“I would strongly suggest looking at under-utilised public land would be one of the funding strategies council would choose to consider.”
The concept of a stadium in Tamworth has been debated for almost two decades but West Tamworth League Club’s decision to build a motel on Scully Park has strengthened calls for a new facility to host marquee games.
Norths’ Bears rugby league coach Brad McManus said a stadium could help lure NRL matches and also develop grassroots footy.
“The NRL is talking about bringing back games to the bush and this stadium could only mean bigger things for Tamworth,” Mr McManus said.
“It would also help develop junior players and be great for rep games, if we could get the people to fill it.”
Tamworth Business Chamber president, and long-time stadium advocate, Tim Coates, said a new facility would deliver significant economic benefits to the city.
“Sport is big business here and this would be another income stream for Tamworth to support revenue from the country music festival,” Mr Coates said.
“The stumbling block has always been funding it.”
“Ratepayers are already doing it tough.”