A SPORTS stadium, aquatic facility and equine hospital are all on the table in a bid by Tamworth Regional Council to enhance and expand the Longyard sporting precinct.
The council has endorsed a precinct master plan and the establishment of the Northern Inland Centre of Excellence that would work to build on the facilities already in the area – AELEC, TRECC, the Sports Dome and the regional hockey complex – and develop new ones as a means of cementing the city’s reputation for producing elite athletes and hosting top-level competitions and events.A
In a council briefing paper on the Centre of Excellence, a list of prospective developments was identified for further investigation, including the completion of a business park for equine-related offices, an additional covered arena at AELEC for warm-ups or more stabling and another main arena for the likes of dressage and show jumping.
An equine hospital, produce store and an extension of the Sports Dome have also been flagged.
A “multi-purpose outdoor facility to meet entertainment and sporting needs” including cricket, league, rugby and cycling is another on the list, re-igniting debate about the need for a “super stadium” for the city in the wake of the loss of Scully Park.
Mayor Col Murray has previously refused to discount the possibility of selling off under-utilised public land to fund such a stadium if it was what the community wanted.
But up until now, a suitable location has never been formally identified, although the Longyard was considered high on the list.
The briefing paper has also put the spotlight back on an indoor aquatic centre.
It had long been recognised as a council priority, until those plans were thrown into disarray by the opening of the new 360 Fitness Club, which includes an aquatic complex, earlier in the year.
According to the briefing paper though, the “addition of aquatic facilities to complement development of the Centre of Excellence and other aquatic facilities within Tamworth” is up for discussion.
For sporting user groups, news of the master plan is welcome.
Sam Potter, the marketing manager for the National Cutting Horse Association, knows AELEC well and can see the advantages of enhancing the precinct.
However, the need for more accommodation in the area was something they commented on, and Ms Potter said another function venue, with catering facilities, would also be welcomed.
Both have been identified on the list of prospective developments for the precinct.
Council’s manager of sports venues and development, Simon Haire, said the concept of developing sports hubs or centres of excellence was an industry trend.