Annual funding of $736,000 for Blacktown International Sportspark (BISP) has been cut by the state government, with Blacktown Council left to pay the bill.
Home to softball and baseball during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the facility's future is under threat, just as baseball and softball are poised to return as Olympic sports.
Blacktown Council is bound by an agreement until 2018 with the NSW Government and Baseball Australia that it will ensure BISP is maintained to international standards.
“We signed an agreement that we would keep Australia’s best softball and baseball site a world class facility and continue to host local, national and international sporting competitions,” mayor Len Robinson said.
In late 2013, after council briefed minister Upton and Premier Barry O’Farrell, it was told that after 2013, no further state government funds would be provided to the council.
“It makes absolutely no sense to me – on one hand Mr O’Farrell spends millions to bring Major League Baseball to the SCG for a week, but he isn’t prepared to continue the vital funding to support the premier baseball facility in Sydney and Australia,” Councillor Robinson said.
“BISP has an international reputation as a world class sporting venue. This is Sydney’s facility and Blacktown is proud to be custodian – but it should not be up to this Council to ensure the Sportspark stays open. I call on Mr O’Farrell to guarantee the future of baseball in NSW and ensure that local talent has a place to shine as they start their professional careers - hoping one day to play in the American or Asian Major Leagues.’’
Since 2000, the NSW Government ($736,000) and Council ($850,000) have made an annual contribution to the recurrent operating costs of the Olympic legacy venues at BISP.
Originally named Blacktown Olympic Park, the facility was developed as a softball, baseball and athletics venue for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Council assumed responsibility for the venue post-Olympics.
Under the care of Blacktown Council, BISP now hosts over half a million visitors each year and is home to the NSW Speed Blitz Blues and Lend Lease Breakers, GWS Giants Academy, Sydney BlueSox, NSW Softball and hundreds of junior athletics carnivals.
BISP also serves as the Western Sydney Wanderers FC training and administration base.
More reaction in next week's edition.
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