Football centre one step closer

Northern NSW Football will seek a 40-year lease for the Speers Point Park site on which it hopes to build an $11.3million regional headquarters after Lake Macquarie City Council voted unanimously to negotiate an agreement with the sporting body.

The proposed complex gained a preliminary vote of support from Lake Macquarie council on Monday night.

Cr Barry Johnston said the project would be ‘‘iconic for the city’’.

Cr Johnston said the site would be ‘‘strategically placed in the centre of the region’’.

He said former Liverpool great Craig Johnston, who grew up at Speers Point, had expressed interest in working with NNSWF on the project.

Mayor Jodie Harrison said she was happy to support the plan.

The vote comes as NNSWF, which will commit $4million to the project, waits for word on its submission to gain $7.3million from the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund. 

The fund’s advisory board is determining which projects will be recommended to the NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, at the end of this month.

NNSWF chief executive David Eland said a memorandum of understanding as well as project and lease agreements needed to be negotiated with the council but the  support was ‘‘a big step forward’’.

‘‘One of the huge challenges for us from the start was getting our foot on the right site, so this vote was real progress,’’ Eland said.

He said NNSWF had completed a geotechnical analysis  and a report was expected to  be tabled within a month. 

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