Sports hub under threat

A $3 MILLIION sports administration hub at Lavington Oval could be moth-balled for at least five years if Albury Council commits to going ahead with the art gallery redevelopment.

The council will decide this month whether to double its financial stake in the art gallery upgrade to $7 million, with the NSW government not matching the $3.5 million put on the table by the federal government and Albury ratepayers to date.

Projects such as the Lavington Oval and Albury Emergency Management Centre upgrades will be put on the backburner if the $10.5 million art gallery project goes ahead.

The three projects are being funded by the special rate variation the council had approved in 2011.

Lavington Oval has undergone some big improvements since the council bought the ground from the Panthers Entertainment Group for $1.2 million in 2009.

More than $500,000 has been spent on bringing the lighting up to AFL standards, a $90,000 digital scoreboard has been installed and further investment has been made to the surrounding road network and signage.

Last year the council bought adjoining land at the eastern end of the ground with an eye to future expansion.

The council has previously been receptive to the idea of entering into a joint venture with the AFL to bankroll the next stage of works at Lavington.

The AFL’s newly formed North East Commission will also employ extra staff in coming weeks and in the short term they will be situated at Ovens and Murray league headquarters in North Albury.

Up to eight people could be working from the cramped Fallon Street offices this year.

North East Commission chairman John Byrne said developing facilities at strategic locations within the region was a priority.

Under plans drawn up by the council, an administration hub and corporate dining facilities will be on the top floor of a three-level building attached to the back of the grandstand.

On the lower levels, two new change-rooms will be built to AFL standards, with the proposed building also incorporating a lift and disabled access.