Showcourt of appeal

IT is shaping up to be a merry Christmas at Traralgon Tennis Association.

First ground was turned on the club’s twin showcourt project last week ahead of a Christmas eve completion date.

The $1.3 million build will feature two Plexipave tennis courts, lighting, fencing and about 400 permanent seats (3000 capacity with temporary seating), funded by $650,000 from the State Government, $100,000 from Tennis Australia and the balance from Latrobe City Council.

Traralgon-based business Waltcon Constructions won the tender for the project and will lead an almost exclusively local team through the build.

Waltcon managing director Walter Furlan said it was rare to see a project of this size and scale in a regional centre.

“It’s very good of Latrobe City to be doing a job of this magnitude and giving it to a local contractor,” Furlan said.

“We’re using all local contractors, there’s no one really from out of town except the court applicators from Melbourne.”

While the site is currently a mess of tree stumps and tyre-ruts it will be gift-wrapped and sparkling come the end of the year.

A new deck will extend around the side of the clubhouse overlooking the new courts, which will be flanked by permanent seats and grandstands, in a huge boon for the centre’s clout in the major events market.

The new showcourts will allow Traralgon to host events as high in profile as Davis Cup ties and will be capable of hosting a range of other spectacles, including netball and basketball exhibitions.

There is also potential for stadium entertainment and performing arts shows.

TTA manager Susie Grumley said it was exciting to see the project finally underway.

“A local construction company has won the tender and is therefore employing local businesses which in turn support the club, which is fantastic,” Grumley said.

“After three years of planning this big project it’s starting to come alive. It will be wonderful to have more big international and local events here and for the local community to use the courts.

“We feel very fortunate that Tennis Australia has seen that potential in us down here and they’re very happy with us hosting events and want to see us host more and bigger events.

“We’re very honoured to have this being built here.”

The project was first earmarked in July 2013 by Tennis Australia, which identified the Traralgon complex as one of 75 key regional partner venues across the country.

Latrobe City Council applied for funding from the Community Facility Funding Program as a major application.

The showcourt was selected over the Moe Netball Courts Resurfacing Project, the Latrobe City Synthetic Sports Field Pavilion, Moe Rails Revitalisation Youth Precinct Project and a multi-use facility as part of the Gaskin Park Master Plan.

TTA was the beneficiary of LCC’s only other CFFP major application made in the last decade, when it attracted $400,000 in State Government funding for a $720,000 court resurfacing project in 2011.

The two international events Traralgon secured as a result of the project each year attract more than $1 million in direct spend during the events, and more than $2 million in indirect spend.

Latrobe City general manager of recreation and community infrastructure Steven Piasente said the project was preferenced for a number of reasons.

“One of the reasons council chose this project was it was well developed in terms of planning for the showcourt, particularly around events (and) the attraction around major events – getting people coming in and staying (with) the junior and senior tournaments that come to Latrobe. Hopefully in the future we can retain those and attract others,” Piasente said.

“One of the key reasons is around getting people to have an aspiration to play at that level from the local perspective but also to have major events coming down here.

“Certainly for the club itself it’s a major attraction in terms of getting new people to come and play.”

Piasente said the completed showcourt would help set Latrobe City apart from other regional Victorian centres vying for events.

“From a regional perspective we’re competing against Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong for these sort of events, along with Shepparton and Albury Wodonga… they have some great facilities as well. Council has obviously seen the benefit investing its own money along with applying for state funding for this project,” he said.

Piasente said the local economic impact was another positive.

“Council has a big focus in tender evaluation in terms of benefit to the local economy. In this instance we’ve been able to get a local contractor which is great to keep jobs here,” he said.

“That’s the other part of economic development as well in terms of having a facility – people coming and staying for events also adds to the local economy from a business perspective.”

TTA will operate as normal throughout the construction phase, but will temporarily have its parking space curtailed.

Permanent parking will be relocated along the rear of the showcourts in the final layout.