I'll pull the plug

Wednesday, March 19
Geelong Advertiser _ Dylan Howard

COUNCILLOR Shane Dowling has threatened to pull his support from the Kardinia Park $26 million redevelopment if the Mayor brokers talks over the deepening lights issue.

Cr Dowling's explosive revelation threatens to jeopardise City Hall's $6 million pledge and divide council after a Geelong Advertiser poll, released today, finds ratepayers want lights for night football and other events.

``If she goes ahead with a meeting I will personally withdraw my support for the $6 million for Kardinia Park,'' Cr Dowling said.

``I will relay that to Frank Costa and Brian Cook and to the State Government. I'm in favour of the redevelopment of the stadium, but if this goes any further I will turn.

``That means no money.''

In response to an apparent groundswell of public support, Cr Abley said she would broker talks about installing the lights - estimated to cost $6 million - if public interest was there.

Today's AddyPoll results show two out of three Geelong residents want lights for night football and other events as part of the arena's redevelopment.

But Cr Dowling dismissed the AddyPoll as incomplete.

He let fly at the Mayor, describing her comments as a ``stunt'' after not consulting her fellow 11 councillors.

``If Barbara Abley was to push ahead with wanting a forum she would be putting herself at risk in the future,'' Cr Dowling said.

``She is not speaking on behalf of the council.

``She needs to check with her own councillors before pulling a stunt like this.''

Cr Abley yesterday stood by her comments, emphasising the cost to erect lights would be on top of the redevelopment and not funded by the council.

The two councillors yesterday spoke on the telephone but it's done little to sway Cr Dowling's view.

``This whole issue is just c---,'' Cr Dowling said.

``It needs to be buried otherwise the Geelong Football Club is in jeopardy to lose its $6 million.

``I would lobby council to withdraw our $6 million, don't worry about that.

``The ground doesn't need lights,'' he said.

Asked if the construction of lights would allow the city to attract other major events to the region, Cr Dowling responded: ``There is not one event we could attract if lights were installed.

``You might as well pour cold water over the whole thing right now.

``It is not sustainable to spend $6 million on lights, who is going to use it?''

Kardinia Park's multi-million redevelopment did not include plans for adequate night lighting after the AFL refused to fixture night matches.

Football club chief executive Brian Cook had originally endorsed the idea but was quick to retract support this week, labelling the concept a red herring.