Gavel / City stadium slips over the horizon

“What I’m worried about is whether an ACT government of the future will have the courage to invest in a new stadium?” says sports columnist TIM GAVEL 

AS a 54 year-old sports commentator, I am starting to wonder whether I will get to call a game at the proposed indoor stadium to be built on the site of the Civic Olympic Pool. 

Tim Gavel

Tim Gavel.

The ACT government’s forecast for the building is now eight to 10 years away because of the costs associated with the Mr Fluffy buy-back scheme.

Any fair-minded sports fan wouldn’t begrudge the Mr Fluffy spend as families struggle to rebuild their lives, but what I’m worried about is whether an ACT government of the future will have the courage to invest in a new stadium. 

By the time it gets around to looking at the new stadium, costs will be far greater than they are now and there must be doubts over securing overseas investors given the volatile global economy. 

Because of the delay, the government must now spend money on keeping Canberra Stadium up to date and relevant. This means wifi, a prerequisite at most sporting grounds, needs to be established. Most modern venues have at least two big screens at either end of the stadium; Canberra has only one.

It is all about creating the best possible experience for fans, who are paying a fair amount of money to go to the ground, with an expectation of being entertained. There must be something at the venue that surpasses the experience of staying home and watching it on television.

CANBERRA has been well served by outstanding leaders in sport. As such, there is pressure on those who are hired to replace the likes of Carrie Graf, Heather Reid and Andrew Dawson to ensure their legacy is preserved.

The feats of Graf and Reid have been well documented, less so the role played by Dawson in development of cricket in Canberra. 

Reid showed she was capable of making the tough decisions in football despite plenty who tried their utmost to pull her down. For that we should be grateful because, as it turned out, more often than not she made the right call.

She’s not washing her hands of sport though. She will still be on the scene for the time being as a consultant.

Graf, with six WNBL titles in her reign as coach of the Capitals, has been incredible in her mentoring of young players on and off the court. What is not seen is the time spent in individual sessions with players and young women seeking clarity on their pathway through life. She is a tremendous role model and mentor. 

Dawson for his part showed a commitment to the development of cricket in Canberra that ensured the ACT stayed relevant following the demise of the Canberra Comets.

Dawson played a major role in establishing the ACT as one of the key centres for developing young cricketers, resulting in the emergence of players such as Nathan Lyon and Alex Ross.

You only have to look at the number of ACT players in the Women’s Big Bash to realise the key role he has played in developing women cricketers in Canberra.

Andrew Dawson, Carrie Graf and Heather Reid will be hard to replace.

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