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Upgrade to mark No.1 Sportsground’s maiden century


Newcastle’s No.1 Sportsground will undergo a major redevelopment to mark its 100th anniversary.

The project, which includes enlarging the playing field, upgrading the lighting and building new tiered seating, is scheduled for completion in mid-2021.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said redeveloping No.1 Sportsground is an apt way to celebrate the facility notching up its ‘maiden century.’ 

“We’re eagerly anticipating the sportsground entering its centenary year in 2021 and look forward to being able to celebrate this milestone moment with a significantly upgraded facility,” Cr Nelmes said. 

“This project will not only benefit those within our community who utilise it for grassroots and regional level sport, but will also have a wider-reaching impact on Newcastle’s economy through its potential to attract and host first class cricket and pre-season AFL fixtures.” 

The staged works include increasing the size of the playing field to achieve the minimum standard required for a first grade AFL match, constructing seven new cricket wickets and re-building the entire playing surface. 

A new sub-soil irrigation and drainage system will provide a high quality, consistent playing surface, while the installation of six new 40-metre light poles will upgrade the lighting to a standard suitable for night games. 

New sight screens, player dug-out benches and oval fencing will also improve the playing experience, while the construction of new four-tier concrete bleachers to seat an additional 390 spectators will almost double the ground’s current seated capacity. 

City of Newcastle has worked closely with the various clubs affected by the ground’s closure, with arrangements made for alternative venues during the 2020/21 summer and 2021 winter sporting seasons. 

Historic image of No.1 Sportsground during a Schools Pageant, held on 25 April 1951. A living map of Australia was formed on the field by 6,000 school children. Image from Newcastle Libraries Local History archives.

No.1 Sportsground sits within the 20-hectare National Park, one of Newcastle’s largest and oldest sportsgrounds and open space reserves. 

It was built on land previously owned by the Australian Agricultural Company, which, from 1865 until the early 1900s, was leased by the Newcastle Racing Club as the site of the city’s original racecourse. 

National Park Sports Ground, as it was originally known, was designed by City engineer JF Shine in 1921, with its playing oval replicating the size of the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

Its original two-storey timber grandstand was completed in October 1921 and could accommodate between 200 and 300 people, with dressing rooms, stores and locker rooms in the lower level. 

The sportsground was officially opened on 16 September 1922, with City of Newcastle changing its name two years later to Newcastle Sports Ground. 

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