The pride of any sporting ground is its grandstand and the newly completed $8.6 million grandstand at Maitland No.1 Sportground will cater for future growth in the Hunter region and instill a sense of pride in local sporting teams.
Upgrades include a new 1100-seat grandstand, two large change rooms that can be partitioned to make four rooms, high quality public amenities and a new canteen – as well as a fresh playing surface.
The project was funded in partnership by the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund (HIIF $5.6 million) and Maitland City Council ($3 million) and guided by a master plan of the Maitland Regional Sportsground complex that was developed by Council.
The focus of the funding saw the out-dated facility demolished to make way for a brand new structure.
Maitland’s No.1 Sportsground is the home of the Maitland Pickers who compete in the Newcastle Rugby League competition. The ground also hosts community events like the annual Carols in the City Christmas Festival.
NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts was on hand to officially open the new-look sportsground on Wednesday afternoon, along with more than 20 stakeholders and community members.
Cr Blackmore said he hoped the sportsground would put Maitland in the conversation when major sporting event organisers were choosing a location.
Cr Brian Burke, who played about 250 first grade games for the Pickers in the 1960s and 1970s, said the facility would be an asset for the entire city – not just for the rugby league community.
“It’s just a magnificent facility,” he said. “We are entering a new era for Maitland.
“The catering and canteen facility is five star and we’re going to see this ground used for a myriad of purposes in the future.”
Mr Burke said it was nearly 60 years to the day since he witnessed his first game of rugby league at this very same ground.
“The great Maitland Pickers team, which won three premierships in a row from 1956 to 1958, were playing Norths that day.
“I remember vowing at the time to one day play third grade for this great team. Little did I know that eight years later, I’d be running out on that very same ground in first grade.”
Mr Burke said he had retained a brick from the demolished Terry Pannowitz Grandstand, named after another great Maitland Picker (see picture page 23), as a memento.
“I got it autographed this week by the man himself,” Mr Burke said. “And although guys like me and Terry are respectful of the past, we’re all looking forward to an exciting future with this wonderful new regional infrastructure.”