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No progress on refurbishment of Wollongong Entertainment Centre 12 months after works identified as a ‘priority’

No progress on refurbishment of Wollongong Entertainment Centre 12 months after works identified as a ‘priority’
February 5, 2021

A year after NSW acting Sports Minister Geoff Lee declared that upgrades to Wollongong’s WIN Entertainment Centre were "priority", a local MP has highlighted that there is no sign of action to fix the dilapidated venue whose leaking roof last year caused the cancellation of an NBL game last year.

Reports have suggested that acting Minister Lee visited the venue on Tuesday, meeting with the board of venue owner Venues NSW.

It has also been reported that acting Minister Lee has said it is up to Wollongong City Council to take the next step towards upgrading the 6,000-capacity venue.

Highlighting the inaction Wollongong MP Paul Scully yesterday stood outside the venue to say time was running out to upgrade the venue before the UCI Road World Championships of cycling in 2022, advising “the Minister promised the WEC upgrade would be a ‘priority’ - his words - after the debacle of the roof leak on this very day last year and yet 12-months on we have absolutely nothing to show for it. (Even) the stakeholder report that the Minister has had for a year hasn’t even been released.

“The Minister needs to get … this upgrade process moving, or Wollongong likely risks another incident where the WEC causes another embarrassment - this time while millions of eyes worldwide are focused on the city.

Scully pointed that Venues NSW had written to acting Minister Lee last February requesting funding, commenting "the time to commit to the future of (the venue) is now".

Scully has relentlessly campaigned for the NSW Government and successive NSW Sports Ministers to take the upgrade of the WEC seriously and obtained secret documents and briefings under FoI laws, which have consistently warned that the current facility is not fit-for-purpose and turns away events with over 1000 participants.

In a Ministerial briefing document dated 21st February 2020, it is noted that Venues NSW “is currently awaiting KPMG to finalise the consultation report” and “Venues NSW has engaged 'The Being Agency' (which Australasian Leisure Management understands is a creative services agency, ed) to develop a public facing document … for Government consideration and approval to commence a draft concept plan and Business Case.”

Documents confirm widespread stakeholder and community support for the upgrade from Venues NSW, the NBL, Destination Wollongong, Illawarra Business Chamber, Wollongong City Council, Regional Development Australia Illawarra, Department of Planning Industry and Environment and other local industry and community organisations.

In response, acting Minister Lee said it was now up to Wollongong City Council to "begin a planning process", telling the Illawarra Mercury “priorities for the Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct have been strengthened by the formation of the new Venues NSW entity, which includes Wollongong representation on the board.

"The NSW Government requested Wollongong City Council begin a planning process for the future of the precinct."

He said the Government was "working collaboratively" with council on the planning process.

Wollongong becomes only UCI Bike City in the Southern Hemisphere
While work on the WIN Entertainment Centre is stalled, the city has this week become the only one in the Southern Hemisphere to receive the coveted UCI Bike City label, recognising the investment and commitment to make Wollongong ‘cycle-friendly’ to all.

Securing the UCI Bike City label is a legacy of hosting the 2022 Wollongong UCI Road World Championships and reinforces the region’s capacity to develop cycling among the community and get more locals and visitors on bikes.

Explaining that the global recognition reinforced the extensive variety of cycling opportunities available throughout Wollongong, acting Minister Lee stated “whether you’re a road cyclist, BMX or mountain biking enthusiast, or just looking for a safe and fun ride with the family, there is something for everyone in Wollongong

“Cycling is a great social sport which keeps you fit and active and it’s loads of fun so I’m so glad we could help make Wollongong a UCI Bike City.”

This global recognition coincides with the release of funding guidelines for the next round of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships Legacy Partnership program due to open later this month, which will support local cycling initiatives in the lead up to the event.

Wollongong 2022 Local Organising Committee Chair Dean Dalla Valle said the NSW Government, Wollongong City Council and Aus Cycling are working closely to ensure Wollongong is globally recognised for cycling tourism and major events.

Dalla Valle added “the Wollongong community should be really proud that their City has been elevated in this way, alongside some of the most famous cities in the world.

“This is a strong building block into the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, which will be the biggest event ever to take place in Wollongong, and a great opportunity for Wollongong to celebrate this accomplishment together.”

Click here for more information on the UCI 2022 Road World Championships.

Images: Wollongong’s ageing WIN Entertainment Centre (top) and the logo for the UCI 2022 Road World Championships (below).

Related Articles

18th January 2021 - Wollongong to experience Australia Day at a distance with COVIDSafe laser and light displays

27th November 2020 - Wellington Phoenix Football Club moves to Wollongong for 2020/21 A-League season

18th November 2020 - Wollongong local government area finally included in NSW Government sport funding programs

17th November 2020 - Appointments announced for Venues NSW Board

29th September 2020 - Governance overhaul heralds new era for Australian cycling

28th September 2020 - Regional Victoria secures leading amateur road cycling event for 2025

23rd June 2020 - NSW Government announces merger of SCG Trust and Venues NSW

17th June 2020 - NBL awards Illawarra Hawks licence to an international syndicate

4th May 2020 - Report suggests Wollongong’s WIN Entertainment Centre ‘not fit for purpose’

4th February 2020 - Call to upgrade WIN Entertainment Centre after leaking roof halts NBL clash

23rd September 2019 - City of Logan venue to host UCI C1 Freestyle BMX event

16th July 2019 - Wollongong City Council commits $1.1 million to improve sports field lighting

14th November 2018 - Destination NSW backs regional sporting events

3rd September 2018 - WIN Entertainment Centre marks 20 years of events in the Illawarra

13th July 2018 - Wollongong City Council reveals $55 million Beaton Park upgrade plan

20th March 2018 - WIN Entertainment Centre to host critical Fed Cup tie

14th January 2018 - Wollongong’s WIN Stadium to make rugby league history

18th September 2010 - East Coast Smackdown takes centre stage at WIN Entertainment Centre

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