State government backs Central Oval turf upgrade

CENTRAL OVAL: Footballers have been desperate to see the state of the turf improved for future seasons.
CENTRAL OVAL: Footballers have been desperate to see the state of the turf improved for future seasons.

Spencer Gulf footballers will step out onto first class turf next season thanks to joint funding from the state government and the Port Augusta City Council.

The Central Oval turf, which has been both a playing hazard and an eyesore for players and the public, will be upgraded to the tune of $973,000.

On Monday, the state government announced Port Augusta City Council as a successful applicant in their first round of Grassroots Football, Cricket, and Netball Facility Program.

"It's a good step to completing a project that has been waiting to be completed for some years now," Mayor Brett Benbow said.

Problems which have been exacerbated over time due to the high temperatures and limited rain fall in dry summer months.

UPGRADE: Port Augusta City Council agreed to support the Central Oval Turf Upgrade project in its 2019/20 Budget.

UPGRADE: Port Augusta City Council agreed to support the Central Oval Turf Upgrade project in its 2019/20 Budget.

The redevelopment will not only improve the playing surface, but also allow for new irrigation to be installed.

"I ran on two things when I ran to get the seat I hold and one was youth in our town and promoting them - providing activity and whatever we can to not only keep them in our town, but get other youth to want to come to our town," Mr Benbow said.

"Central Oval precinct is a fantastic environment, and for not only sporting activity - there are other areas that use it."

Council have been openly criticised by ratepayers for their spend on the Central Oval precinct.

Mr Benbow said he is understanding of those frustrations, but championed the facility for increasing future tourism opportunities.

Both the AFL and SANFL have expressed interest in bringing matches to Central Oval, but have been reluctant to do so until the playing surface is improved.

"Every time we create or grow this to its full potential, the more tourism we'll get because it's going to bring more people here for sport, or other activities and they will bring their families and so forth," he said.

"Personally, I think it's a great thing that we need to finish. I know there are complaints about the money that has been spent, but until we finish it we can't use it to its full potential."

Member for Stuart and state government minister, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, also welcomed the news.

"Sport and sporting clubs are incredibly important to regional communities," he said.

"Upgrading the playing surface will complement the excellent facilities that already service at Central Oval.

"I know all teams in the Spencer Gulf Football League and in particular Souths, Centrals and Westies will appreciate the wonderful new playing surface."

Work is expected to get underway by the end of the Spencer Gulf Football season.