At last, let there be lights!

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THE Federal Government has promised $2.5 million for lights at Manuka Oval as part of the ACT’s Centenary celebrations next year and my understanding is that this will be matched by a contribution of $2.85 million in the ACT Government’s Budget next week.

As a result, there will no doubt be renewed interest in the possibility of the ACT securing a team in cricket’s Big Bash 20/20 series.

Those advocating a team in Canberra were told earlier that one of the prerequisites is lighting suitable for television cameras at Manuka Oval.

But it is not just cricket pushing for lights, with the AFL increasingly moving to night time games.

Despite the Government funding pledges, there is still a consultation process with the residents of the inner-south keen to have input into lighting and proposed changes to Manuka Oval.

The Big Bash receives little or no Government funding for the running of its teams.

In Canberra there is a reliance on Government funding because of the small pool of major corporate backers.

The ACT Government currently puts money into 17 national league teams and the GWS Giants.

The Raiders, Brumbies and Giants have alternate funding mechanisms in place away from the national league team funding program. Beyond GWS, the Raiders, the Brumbies and the Canberra Capitals receive the most funding with $120,000 each followed by the Canberra United Women’s Football team with $60,000. It then drops to $31,000 for the Canberra Cavalry Baseball team, the Canberra Strikers women’s hockey side, the Canberra Lakers and the Canberra Gunners men’s basketball team.

The next rung of recipients, on $24,000, includes the ACT Meteors, the ACT Comets, the Canberra Knights and the Canberra Darters.

Teams receiving $10,000 a year are the ACT Diamonds women’s softball side, the Cockatoos men’s orienteering, the women’s Cockatoos, and the Canberra Heat men’s and women’s volleyball teams.

I am pointing out the amounts paid to these sports to emphasise how the money is already thinly spread throughout the existing national league teams.

With Big Bash expansion still some time away, the best course of action to begin with would be to attract one of the Sydney teams to play some games in Canberra.

Looking to the short-term though, new National League teams are unlikely in Canberra.

ACT Netball may look at hosting a game involving the Sydney Swifts in the Trans Tasman Netball League, but the chances of an A League team or an NBL side are almost non-existent for the time being.

One sport looking at its options is water polo. The ACT has been invited to take part in the NZ National League.

Finding sponsors for sporting teams in Canberra is a tough gig at the moment. The A League bid team found out how hard it was even with Government funding and as it turned out, it fell short.

If the Canberra Big Bash bid is to succeed, it may have to attract interest from overseas investors.

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Tim Gavel
Journalist and ABC sports broadcaster

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