$9.5m RSL club revamp ‘exciting time’ for Ballina
IN LAUNCHING a major renovation underway at the Ballina RSL Club, CEO Bill Coulter joked to the invited guests he wanted to take everyone away from the goings-in Canberra this week and focus on Ballina.
But he couldn’t avoid using a well-worn Canberrian catch-phrase when he said the $9.5m stage one revamp of the club was an “exciting time” for the members and the broader community.
The renovations, which have been in the planning since the last major revamp eight years ago, will see more floor space for members both downstairs and upstairs at the club.
Mr Coulter said the membership of the club was approaching 20,000, and the club needed to be able to cater for changing needs while also planning for more growth.
The main changes will see the gaming and TAB areas moved upstairs, with the floor space they currently occupy at ground level used to extend the lounge area and make the floor a “beverage and dining precinct”.
Chairman Gary Hooley noted that taking those gambling facilities out of the downstairs area would mean they weren’t visible to the many families who dined at the club.
A new sports lounge, complete with snooker tables, would be created upstairs along with a bar and cafe, while the auditorium won’t be touched.
The upstairs floor area will be extended over the existing top floor carpark, with an al fresco area overlooking River St.
The Spinnakers function room will have a dividing wall so the area can be rejigged to cater for small and large functions, and there will be spaces available for community groups to meet in the new-look club.
Mr Hooley said it was hoped work on the upstairs renovation would be finished by mid-December, while the aim was to have the downstairs upgrade completed by February.
There are further concept plans, as part of stage two of the redevelopment, to include more dining options downstairs.
Mr Hooley said the renovations would be an inconvenience to members in the short term, but they would benefit in the long term.
The club’s administration offices have been relocated to a River St shopfront while the work is carried out, and snooker tables have been placed in the Ballina RSL Bowling Club.