Saints eye relocation tentatively
A PLAYING surface commensurate with what BITS Saints currently enjoy is the most critical factor in the club relocating to another venue, according to president Damon Stebbings.
With the wheels slowly turning in regard to the Boyne Tannum Country Club Estate development, the club has had limited talks with the Gladstone Regional Council about the proposed move, which has been an on-and-off proposition for some years.
“We had an initial meeting earlier this year with council and they spoke about the pool of money they had and what information needed to be traded between us and them about what we’d like to and what our expectations are,” he said.
“Our number priority is the playing surface and we have grave concerns that if it’s not done in the proper manner or done at the right time, the playing surface won’t be to what we expect.”
Talks have been progressing well since the first contact and Stebbings is pleased with the direction and details being discussed.
“The last correspondence from council was asking us how much space we needed, which was a good sign,” he said.
Having played at the club and the ground for the past 15 years, he’s acutely aware of the necessity to maintain an exemplary surface, both for AFL and cricket.
“It’s the best in the region and other clubs say that and as a club we don’t want to lose that reputation,” he said.
Off the field, however, the club amenities are the polar opposite, a fact the club is well aware of and also on the wishlist is a full set of lights for the ground.
“We’ve only got two poles at the moment and we’ve asked council to tell us when the major sporting grants come up, so maybe we can look at going in with cricket and little athletics and get it fully lit,” he said.
In Stebbings’ eyes, the club being unable to carry out development at Boyne Oval has meant the facility has been in limbo as years have come and gone.
“The first whispers and meeting with council was in 2004-5, so we’ve been on tenterhooks since then waiting to put money into here but not wanting to waste it,” he said.
“There’s certainly a lot more light at the end of the tunnel than there has been in the past.”
In one instance to fill a temporary need, a shipping container was purchased and placed at the ground as a makeshift office and storage.
While no specific date has been set for the relocation, Stebbings was informed it will more than likely be 2013.
“They talked about two years from when it went unconditional to us moving,” he said.
Not having yet seen the proposed parcel of land, the sub-committee in charge of dealing with the issue is keen to cast an eye over it. Stebbings said the venue wouldn’t be as ideally suited positionally as the current venue has exceptional road frontage.
“We have some concerns about advertising signage we can put up there,” he said.
While the excitement is there for moving the club, if this current plan falls through, the club will shelve any ideas for uprooting and entrench itself at it Boyne Oval.
“Relocation is exciting but we could really do up this place if we had the OK this is yours and this is the spiritual home of the club. We’d be saying don’t knee jerk again, we’re staying and give us approval to make the necessary improvements.”