Newcastle’s No.2 Sportsground will finally deliver on its promise as a multi-sport venue when the Jets women’s team adopt it as their training base this summer.
The council ground has been predominantly a home for the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union and Wanderers rugby club since reopening five years ago following a $7million redevelopment.
The NHRU and Wanderers helped drive the rebuild, contributing several hundred thousand dollars in cash and kind, and the Federal Government tipped in $2million.
The venue was designed to also host soccer games, in particular Jets youth, W-League and occasional NPL fixtures, and Newcastle Knights NSW Cup matches, but it has rarely been used for sports other than rugby.
That will change in early October when the Jets women, who are now under the A-League club’s umbrella, move from Northern NSW Football’s Speers Point base.
They will use No.2 for training sessions and could play a W-League match there this season.
The Jets youth team will also play their National Youth League matches at No.2 this summer, starting in late November, but will continue to train at Newcastle University.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, then chair of the council’s recreation advisory committee, told the Newcastle Herald in 2012 that No.2 was “built not just for rugby”.
On Thursday, Nelmes said the W-League side were a “perfect fit” to make more use of the ground over summer.
“This rectangular field was always to be shared with all codes of football,” she said.
“It was made to be used by as many people as it can handle.”
The pitch was looking worn on Thursday after a busy season of Wanderers senior and junior games and the first week of NHRU finals, but Jets boss Lawrie McKinna was confident it would be in good shape by October.
The Jets will play most of their home games this season as double-headers with the A-League team at McDonald Jones Stadium, but it is understood one game could be at No.2.
Midfielder Cassidy Davis said the new training base would give her side a boost after years of sharing Speers Point with hundreds of Emerging Jets juniors.
“It’s something that we’ve needed,” she said.
“Credit to Speers Point, it is a good field and good facility there, but I think it’s different when you have your own thing, your own training ground, the sheds are yours, everything’s yours.
“It’s a major thing and will help us as a team.”
The Jets’ first task at No.2 will be painting one of the dressing sheds in readiness for the W-League squad, who have never had their own change room.
W-League players are also waiting on an announcement about a new minimum wage for this season, believed to be about $7000.