$4.5m pitch to lure baseball headquarters
LISMORE'S Albert Park baseball fields are poised to hit a home run as the new headquarters of Australian baseball when a $4.5 million upgrade gets the go-ahead from the NSW Government.
It's been talked about for years but now it seems a new funding pitch will see Baseball Australia leave their current venue on the Gold Coast and head south to an exciting purpose-built facility.
After the council meeting on Tuesday evening, general manager Gary Murphy spoke with councillors about the opportunity to secure the funding via a different approach.
On Wednesday morning Lismore mayor Isaac Smith confirmed Mr Murphy had spoken earlier in the day with Craig Jenkins at NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet about the Albert Park development proposal.
"This is a really big deal to have a national sport based in our regional city," he said.
"It means significantly employment opportunities and increased sports tourism for one of our most popular sports."Cr Smith said Mr Murphy had a good conversation with Mr Jenkins and council is hoping for a speedy and positive decision.
"This was an originally proposed through state regional environmental and tourism funding," he said.
"But now there appears to be a new opportunity under that state sports and infrastructure fund to have the development go ahead."
Baseball Australia has reported it has the world's fastest growing Little League community.
There are nearly 49,000 players registered with Baseball Australia and 350 Australians have gone on to sign professional contracts the organisation said.
Cr Smith said while "Baseball Australia have not signed on the dotted line", as soon as the funding is confirmed they are expected to whip their pens out.
"We don't have Baseball Australia locked in as they were waiting to get commitment from the government on funding," he said.
"We believe if the state government funding under sport infrastructure is confirmed than Baseball Australia are coming on board."
Cr Smith said the Albert Park site would undergo a complete redevelopment.
Previously Lismore City Council said Baseball Australia has indicated it would commit to hosting key national events, international team training camps and national team activities in Lismore for at least five years if the upgrade was funded.
"We have submitted the documentation and I am hopeful we will hear in the new future as projects under this funding are considered on merit on a case-by-case basis," Cr Smith said.
"If the funding comes quickly it would be great for Lismore on the back of the flood anniversary."
Cr Smith said with the redevelopment of the Far North Coast Regional Hockey Centre and Crozier Oval, Lismore "is really cementing its reputation as a sporting hub."