Newcastle International Hockey Centre (NIHC) chairman Bob Fernance predicts the $10 million redevelopment of the Broadmeadow facility will start in late February – 28 months after state government funding for the project was announced.
Fernance hoped the works, taking in demolition of the NHIC buildings and replacing them with new change rooms, canteens, pro shop, grandstands and covered seating, would be finished by the end of 2018 when the grant was revealed in October 2016.
However, changes to the original plans and the need for a flood management plan have delayed the project.
Fernance, though, said a development application was ready and the NHIC hoped to put the project out to tender in January.
“Anyone who knows councils and how these things are planned, knows that it takes time,” Fernance said.
“You only get one shot at these things and you want to get it right, and all the authorities want to make sure you do as well. This is not like building a house.
“We have a full DA and we are in the midst of getting our construction certificate. We’ll go out to tender in the new year and I’d say pretty close to the end of February, we’ll be putting a shovel in the ground.”
There were hopes of starting the first stage of works last October to minimise interruptions to winter competitions. Fernance said there would be “a bit of compromise with competition schedules but we’ll try to make it business as usual for members” during the predicted 18-month redevelopment. However, he said the hosting of some tournaments “may have to be sacrificed”.
“We’ve got to keep a centre open for our membership so it won’t exactly be happening like we planned, where we go in and demolish everything and start rebuilding,” he said.
“We’ll probably build around the south field first, get that operational and then do the east-west and whatever else we need to do.
“It’s going to take a little bit longer but it will be completed to a standard and on budget and hopefully our members will be delighted with what we produce for them.”
The rebuild, also including upgraded lighting and 360 carparks, would give NIHC the facilities to match its three top-class surfaces and a better chance of attracting elite tournaments and training camps.
The centre, which opened in 1990, was built with an $800,000 bank guarantee from Fernance and fellow Newcastle hockey stalwart Peter Sweeney and has been almost entirely maintained through contributions from members.
“We have an amount of money to spend and we want to fit a lot into that,” Fernance said. “We want new LED lighting for our three fields and other things that will make the place more user-friendly, and we have to get our build right.
“It will be the first part of what we hope will be the new precinct down there. And it will be a great first part. I think we will have the most useful and best hockey precinct in Australia.”
The main building next to the east and west fields will include change and function rooms, a canteen, coffee and pro shop. Fernance said the grandstand and covered areas “will make it a lot more pleasant out there” for spectators. He said the south field construction is a smaller version of the main building and will include catering areas and a grandstand.