The expansion of The Hills Sports Stadium has kicked off – with Hills Shire Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne describing it as a major boost for local basketballers.
In June 2015, Council agreed to a 20-year-lease with the Hills Basketball Association (HBA) and a loan of $3.25 million for the expansion of the stadium.
Under the agreement, HBA will continue to pay a subsidised rent and enter into a loan repayment plan with Council, while using the loaned funds to expand their stadium from four courts to six, with a new 600-seat grandstand, new offices and additional car parking.
Mayor Byrne visited the site with HBA General Manager Steve Burke and HBA President Steven Nicholls on Wednesday.
“This facility has been well used by generations of Hills basketballers, but over the last ten years it became pretty clear that they’d outgrown the centre,” Mayor Byrne said.
“This agreement not only secures the future of the association in The Hills, but it also provides opportunity for major growth.”
“Interest in basketball has been growing over the years. You only have to look at the number of young people that follow the NBL and NBA religiously to realise that basketball has a strong future in The Hills.”
“I’m proud to see that we’re supporting the stability and growth of basketball for many years to come.”
HBA was established in the early 1980s and began operating out of the Hills Sports Stadium when construction was completed in 1995.
From the 700 registered players that regularly used the centre in 1995, the Stadium now caters for close to 5000 participants in competitions and development programs.
The extension project will add two courts, including a show court with seating for 600, a revamped foyer, new change rooms, offices and referees’ room.
The extension will enable HBA to better cater for current local demand, host National Championships and similar events and to expand multi-sport capabilities.
For Mr Burke, the sight of the car park transforming into a construction site is almost too good to be true.
“Seeing the builders on site is beyond exciting for everyone here at Hills Basketball – members, staff and committee,” Mr Burke said.
“This project has been on the drawing board for a decade and the real push to make it happen started in 2012. To finally be seeing something tangible after years of climbing hurdles to get the project off the ground, brings a sense of achievement but also renews our enthusiasm for the challenge of further developing basketball in the Sydney Hills region.”
“We’re currently the second largest Basketball association in NSW and there is no reason we can’t become the largest.”
The existing courts will remain fully functional throughout the extension project period, which is expected to be complete by mid-2017.