Work on the Newcastle Knights’ $20 million Centre of Excellence at District Park will soon get underway, with Richard Crookes Constructions appointed to build the high performance facility.
Jointly funded by the NSW Government and Wests Group Australia, the project will create 80 jobs and provide a major boost to the Hunter as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.
“It will turbo charge the already great work the Knights do in engaging the community to bring our community level, grassroots footy into an elite level,” Member for the Legislative Council Taylor Martin said.
The Centre of Excellence will include three full-sized training fields, a state-of-the-art gym, multipurpose community and function area, lap pool and sauna, theatrette and players’ lounge, rehabilitation space, office areas, walkway, and cycle path.
Knights’ and Wests Group Australia Chief Executive Philip Gardner said he hoped the centre would be the key to a premiership win, while also proving to be a popular community asset.
“We’ve got three football fields, we have a Centre of Excellence, that’s going to support not just the Knights, but everyone else involved in rugby league in our region,” he said.
He also hinted at the creation of a women’s team in the near future.
“We’ve got our hand up to be the next franchise that comes in,” he said.
“It’s been a challenging year and without the government’s support in these facilities, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
The centre will also feature a nod to one of the Knights’ most-loved sons, Paul ‘The Chief’ Harragon.
“It’s going to have a ‘Chief’s Legends Room,’ so it will have a museum not just for the Knights but for other people who have excelled in the region, so people can come and see it,” Gardner said.
“We think the Chief embodies all the things we love about the Knights, so the Chief’s Legends Room is a really important thing for us.”
Head Coach Adam O’Brien said the centre was a game changer for the team.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect our pathways with our senior team and our women’s team in the future, but also our town supporters and members, as it provides a facility they can come and access the players, watch them train and we are interacting with the community.”
General Manager of Richard Crookes Constructions, Hunter and New England, Luke Gerathy said the company was proud to have been selected to deliver the centre.
“We recognise the significant contribution that this new facility will make to the future generations of players and the wider Hunter community,” he said.
“As Newcastle locals, our team are honoured to partner with Knights Rugby League to deliver their vision for this first-class training facility.”
Work is expected to be completed by 1 November next year.
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