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Sporting groups welcome multi-million-dollar grandstand upgrade

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Sporting groups have welcomed plans to enhance the grandstand at Wickham’s Passmore Oval to the tune of $2.35 million.

Construction is set to begin this month on a major redevelopment of the facility, delivering dedicated female changerooms, improved disability access and new community function areas.

It will include a state-of-the art two-storey building constructed at the back of the existing grandstand, providing viewing for both Passmore Oval and its adjacent Hawkins Oval.

Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz, Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes met with representatives from the Hamilton Hawks Rugby Union Club, Hamilton Wickham District Cricket Club, Newcastle District Cricket Association, EJE Architecture and Cerak Constructions to announce work will begin this month on the Passmore Oval grandstand upgrade.

The project is a collaboration between City of Newcastle (CN) and the Hamilton Hawks Rugby Union Club.

President Lesa Mason said the improvements would be a massive boost for the organisation and the community, but especially the thriving number of young female sports participants.

“The purpose-built changerooms will see the end of our junior and senior women’s teams getting changed in cars or waiting for ‘their turn’ in the men’s dressing rooms,” she explained.

“Participation rates in women’s 7s rugby and the 15-a-side game are booming.

“So, the timing of the development is excellent, with Passmore Oval in the heart of the rapidly expanding Wickham/West End growth corridor and female player registrations at the Hamilton Hawks reflecting the rapid growth nationally.

“Members of the public with mobility issues will also now be catered for with accessible toilet facilities both on the ground floor and new viewing spaces and further amenities on the upper level, accessible by lift.

“We are very grateful to City of Newcastle for its advice and support in seeing the development come to fruition.”

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the extension and upgrade of the grandstand would set an inclusive benchmark for Newcastle’s sporting facilities.

“Council is committed to making our city more liveable and all-encompassing for everyone,” she stated.

“This project will deliver dedicated female changerooms to cater for the growing number of women and girls playing rugby union and cricket in Newcastle.

“It’ll also ensure the spectator facilities meet the needs of all members of our community, with lift access and amenities that will enhance the comfort and experience for people with a disability visiting the Wickham Park sporting complex.”

Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said the project aligned with the recommendations in CN’s Strategic Sports Plan for the wider Wickham Park precinct.

She added it would provide a great outcome for all its user groups including the Hawks, Hamilton Wickham District Cricket Club and the Newcastle District Cricket Association.

“We have worked collaboratively with the Hamilton Hawks Rugby Union Club to bring long-held ambitions for the upgrade of this facility to life with a design created by EJE Architecture that will ensure both Passmore Oval and Hawkins Oval can be enjoyed by everyone in our community,” she said.

Specially designed female dressing rooms for both the home and away teams will be housed on the ground floor of the new building, along with a shared exercise and training area and storage rooms.

Amenities for people with a disability will be included on both levels of the building, while a lift will ensure the facility is fully accessible.

The upper level will feature a community room, a kitchen area for food and drinks service and a balcony overlooking Hawkins Oval.

The existing grandstand will also include a new community meeting room and viewing space for wheelchair users overlooking Passmore Oval.

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