Club launches whole new $5m ball game
By MARY MANN
IS THIS really the Ballina RSL Club? That was the reaction from punters as they walked into the club's refurbished ground floor when it opened to the public for the first time this week.
The new sports bar and lounge, with enhanced river views and new gaming facilities, are the first stage of the club's $5 million upgrading program which started in March.
Suffolk Park residents Mal and Jackie Hargrave visited the club on Tuesday for a drink while waiting for their car to be serviced. They are regular day-trippers to Ballina.
"When we walked in and saw it we were very impressed," Jackie said. "It's really modernised, and there's more space. We love it."
The club's general manager, Bill Coulter, said he was proud of the new-look ground floor.
"There has certainly been plenty of anticipation in the air in the months leading up to the completed first stage," Mr Coulter said.
"We want our patrons to feel proud of the club, and they will with this new look. "It's our way of giving something back to the community.
"We have had great feedback. People are saying it is just like being in a hotel or a resort."
During the construction period Ballina RSL Club staff are wearing catchy 'Construction Crew' T-shirts to meet the construction phase with a touch of humour.
The last major club renovations were carried out in the 1990s when elevators and the front reception area were established.
Ground floor services such as dining and entertainment were shifted up to the first floor while work on the ground floor was being carried out.