November 28, 2014 – 11:00AM
By Scott Tibballs
This report was originally published on The Age: ‘Amateur football clubs fear St Kilda’s return to the junction’
Two Albert Park sports clubs have slammed the Coalition’s election pledge to return St Kilda Football Club to the Junction Oval.
Wayne Dyer, the club president of the Collegians, said that the speed of the announcement raised concerns that any major redevelopment would squeeze out the local ovals’ flourishing amateur clubs by taking up all the parking and occupying the site during construction.
‘We’re concerned about the speed of this development’ said Mr Dyer, adding that his club would ‘support any reasonable development’ that went through a proper planning process and community consultation.
‘It’s an election grab… both parties have jumped on this at the 11th hour.’
The Junction Oval has become an election focus, with both major parties pledging funds for competing visions of the future of the sports facility.
The Coalition plan would see the Junction Oval host Sheffield Shield cricket, while the adjacent Ian johnson Oval was earmarked for St Kilda Football Club training and administration.
Labor has backed cricket’s move back to Junction Oval. and according to Labor member for Albert Park Mr Martin Foley, is ‘not opposed to expanding the plan … the door’s open.’
Mr Dyer’s amateur football club, the Collegians, train on the Harry Trott Oval, right next to the Ian Johnson Oval.
‘The park is a haven for amateur sport, not professional,’ Mr Dyer said.
He added that he was worried about the impact that an AFL team training nearby would have on the already strained facilities in the park.
Another local sports club president, Mr Hugo Armstrong of the South Melbourne District Sports Club, agreed.
‘The park should not be placed at risk for a plan that is half-baked’, said Mr Armstrong. ‘We and almost all park clubs and users are strongly opposed to this land grab that will only undermine community access and control over the park.’
Mr Dyer and Mr Armstrong said that they were not concerned about the Cricket Victoria plan to redevelop just the Junction Oval.
‘Cricket doesn’t get as many fans to games as football’ Mr Dyer said.
The Liberal Candidate for Albert Park, Ms Shannon Eeles, said that Fitzroy Street (to the south) could do with some ‘activation’ and that it would be good for the area.
While the City of Port Phillip has been reported to support the plan to return St Kilda to Albert Park, in a statement on their website the Mayor, Amanda Stevenson indicated that the council had not made any commitments to either plan.
Scott Tibballs is a Master of Journalism student at the University of Melbourne