City backs oval project

Wednesday, March 12

CITY councillors last night voted to appoint a project manager to the $26 million Skilled Stadium upgrade despite one councillor saying they were acting with indecent haste.

In an impassioned speech, Cr Heather Wellington said it was not the job of council to give money to a private sporting club.

She said she had major concerns about the risk of cost blowouts and the effect council's $6 million commitment would have on other projects.

``We will commit this $6 million with not one iota of explanation of what we will not be able to fund if we go ahead with it,'' Cr Wellington said.

``It will have an enormous impact on our ability to deliver on other worthwhile projects.''

She said the residents of Geelong could make their own decision to support the Geelong Football Club.

``They should not be taxed through their rates to do this,'' she said.

She said appointing a project manager was no guarantee of avoiding cost over-runs.

Limeburners Point and the baseball stadium projects both had project managers and still hit cost over-runs that the council had to pay for, she said.

``We have not had an appropriate risk assessment. Why has it come back in this way? We need to have the whole project in front of us with a proper risk analysis and analysis of the alternatives,'' she said.

Cr Wellington said it was ludicrous to suggest there were only two alternatives - back the project or de-commission the stadium.

Moving to appoint the project manager, Cr Tony Farrell said it was a fantastic development for Geelong that included a function centre and sports house.

With football club chairman Frank Costa and CEO Brian Cook looking on, Cr Farrell said the club brought economic and social benefits to the city.

He said the only alternative to the upgrade was to de-commission the stadium.

``The detractors have had six months to work on this and I still cannot see any reason not to go ahead with it,'' Cr Farrell said.

Cr Ed Coppe said Cr Wellington would not support the project no matter what the risk assessment said, and Cr Shane Dowling said it would cost council $6 million to back the project or $30 million to pull down the stadium.

THE VOTE: FOR: Shane Dowling, Bruce Harwood, Tony Ansett, Barbara Abley, Ed Coppe, Craig Farrell, David Saunderson.

AGAINST: Heather Wellington.

Crs Linda Ristevski, Stretch Kontelj, Rob Binnie and Alex Di Natale were absent.