Families flock to new-look clubs

POPULATION changes mean registered clubs are more family friendly than ever before.

The move by clubs to keep up with the times has paid off, according to figures recently released by Clubs NSW.

Representatives from western Sydney clubs met to discuss a KPMG study, which revealed 590,170 club members in the region, compared with 342,299 in 2000.

St Marys Rugby League Club leads the increase on the local front, with a 65 per cent rise, from 23,241 in 2001 to 38,400.

At St Marys Band Club, membership has risen 42 per cent, from 12,600 to 18,000.

St Marys RSL membership has grown a third while Rooty Hill RSL remains the area's biggest club with a 29 per cent rise, from 38,700 members to 50,000 today.

Marketing manager Cathy Rowley said nearby housing estates gave the club the opportunity to attract new members.

"Because areas such as Ropes Crossing have targeted young families, we too have improved our family offers," she said.

"We strongly believe our membership base has increased because we offer a safe environment for visitors. We have a low rate of incidents because of our zero tolerance policy about bad behaviour."

The club recently completed a $2 million renovation program, which included the first upgrade to exteriors, foyer, lounge and bar areas in 13 years, and installed a dedicated new parent room.

The next phase includes showroom renovations and a more family-friendly barbecue area.

"With the proposed building of a motel and lifestyle Centre under final negotiations, [Saints] will soon become a 'destination' for our community," president Warren Smith said.

St Marys Band Club has made major improvements, including the first fully enclosed and supervised children's play area in a western Sydney club.

"The new cafe and buffet restaurant also helped to attract a large number of new female and family memberships," chief executive Marlene Shipley said.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback from mums and dads who appreciate being able to enjoy a quiet meal knowing that their children are having fun in a safe environment."

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