WORKS at the Queen Elizabeth Oval have put a cloud over patron access to Bendigo’s premier football ground during its busiest period of the year.
Six weeks out from the Bendigo Football Netball League finals series, the city end of the QEO is primarily a construction site with work on redeveloping the kiosk, toilets and View Street entrance starting in the past fortnight.
The City of Greater Bendigo committed $1.1 million in the 2017/18 budget to conduct the work as part of its master plan for the site. the cost of which has since risen to $1.5m.
Late last year, council said it hoped construction would start in early 2018. But Fairbrother workers have moved in just over a month out from the BFNL finals series.
The program of works includes a new kiosk and improved toilet facilities at the city end of the ground and a revamped entrance point off View Street including significant landscaping work.
The construction area stretches from the corner closest to the intersection of View Street and Gaol Road and behind the goals at the city end of the ground, where drainage improvements are taking place.
Council and the BFNL both remain confident that work will be completed by the time finals begin.
BFNL manager Cameron Tomlins said the timing was not ideal, but the league had worked closely with the council and understood why the decision had been made despite finals approaching.
“The timing is obviously not ideal from our perspective, but we’re confident it will have minimal impact on our finals series,” he said.
“There will be some access limitations but we will have plans in place for that and we expect to have at least that area behind the goals back before the start of the finals series.”
Car parking and access inside the ground will be limited over coming weeks and during finals, but the current kiosk facility will continue to operate as normal and portable toilets will also be utilised.
Council’s Lincoln Fitzgerald said construction company Fairbrother had agreed to limit fencing as much as possible during the finals series in September.
“Landscaping works behind the bleacher seating has been programmed early in the works program to reduce the extent of the site fencing as soon as possible,” he said.
Mr Fitzgerald added that council is confident that the finals series will continue to be a success at the QEO. Work on the project is scheduled for completion in early 2019.
Meantime, spectator shelters have been erected at the ground this year to replace those that were demolished as part of the 2010 redevelopment, and work on the long-awaited netball change facilities is also progressing.
“The design of new female change rooms for the QEO netball courts is almost complete, with construction due to commence later this year,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
– Joel Peterson