Story

From Paul Amy, Caulfield Glen Eira Leader

June 15, 2018 5:00pm

IT has been booted off its ground for the third time season, but Port Melbourne Football Club is likely to get some good news about North Port Oval next week.

Port Phillip Council this afternoon confirmed it was trying to bring forward the planned reconstruction of the playing surface to this year.

If funding for the multimillion-dollar project is approved at a meeting on June 20 the works will start at the end of the season.

The Borough took another financial hit and lost another home game after North Port Oval was yesterday deemed unsafe for football due to soft patches around the centre.

Saturday’s Round 11 clash against Geelong has been shifted to Williamstown.

Port also had to move its Round 1 and 2 home matches elsewhere, and the unfurling of the 2017 premiership flag was delayed until Round 6.

“This is a very disappointing outcome for our club and beyond our control and yet again, reconfirms why the ground needs to be redeveloped,’’ Port president Michael Shulman said in a statement on the club website.

“We naturally understand and share the frustration of you, our members, as well as that of our players, coaches, staff and sponsors.’’

North Port earlier in the year.

He added: “Player safety and welfare is of course of utmost importance at all times, hence we need to respect the decision that has been made.’’

Shulman told Leader earlier in the year that the loss of the Round 1 and 2 fixtures would show up on Port’s bottom line since it would be denied money from membership, gate receipts, merchandise, food and drinks sales, and income from pre-match president’s lunches.

The state of North Port Oval has been a regular problem for Port Melbourne in the past few years.

 

It had to give up two home games in 2013 and another two in 2016 owing to problems with the surface.

Mayor Bernadene Voss.

This afternoon Cr Voss said the council shared the club and community’s disappointment about tomorrow’s fixture being shifted to Williamstown.

“I can assure everyone that under our partnership with the club and AFL Victoria, we are all committed to a long-term solution for this important sports facility,’’ she said.

“Despite this setback, we are all excited at the progress on bringing forward a much needed ground reconstruction, which will ensure water can drain away from the playing surface.

“Council’s draft budget, due to be voted on at the 20 June council meeting, proposes bringing forward the required funding so the ground reconstruction can start directly after the end of the 2018 season.’’

Asked if the council would consider financial compensation to Port Melbourne over the loss of three home games, she said: “Council has not previously compensated the club for rescheduled fixture matches. However we are working closely with the club and AFL Victoria on providing a long-term solution through the delivery of the much-needed ground reconstruction.’’

Voss said that since April an AFL Victoria turf consultant had overseen works at the ground and undertaken regular post-match inspections.

“We are confident this arrangement, in partnership with (contractor) CityWide, is the best way to deal with the surface’s inherent challenges until a reconstruction is undertaken,’’ she said.

NorthPort
NorthPort's picture

From the official VFL website. 

 

NORTH PORT GROUND UPGRADE APPROVED

Iconic North Port Oval has received a welcomed funding boost this week with the City of Port Phillip approving $1.95M to a complete reconstruction of the playing surface.

Port Melbourne’s home ground and the traditional VFL finals series venue over many years has faced several challenges this year with the surface and associated infrastructure in need of an upgrade.

The reconstruction works will include a new drainage and irrigation system, a sand based profile, AFL size goal posts, interchange benches, and new picket fence. The works will commence at the end of the 2018 VFL season and with the use of solid (roll out) turf, will ensure the venue is ready for the start of the 2019 VFL season.

AFL Victoria Chief Operating Officer, Rick Bell welcomed the funding announcement.

“North Port Oval is a much loved venue that plays an important role in our VFL competition. This funding will ensure the venue retains its rightful place as a premier football facility. I congratulate the City of Port Phillip their staff and Councillors for the work they have undertaken to bring this funding forward and thank them for their support. I also thank the Port Melbourne Football Club for their patience and cooperation in what has been a challenging year.”

AFL Victoria has been working closely with the City of Port Phillip and the Port Melbourne Football Club for several weeks on the scope of such a project and look forward to continuing to work with Council and the Club on its delivery.

In the short term, works commenced Friday (June 22) on addressing the problem area on the wicket table that has seen matches relocated this year. Based on our Turf Consultant’s advice, works to provide new sodded turf on this area will provide the best opportunity for this area to be in a playable condition for the remainder of the season. These works are expected to be completed by Tuesday next week, in time for Port Melbourne’s next home game on June 30. This scope of work on the wicket table was only able to be implemented, once funding for the complete ground reconstruction was brought forward to the end of this football season.