Construction has begun on the Canberra Raiders’ new Centre of Excellence in the heart of the city, with the $19 million redevelopments seeing the Green Machine leave Bruce and returning to their spiritual home at Northbourne Oval.
The new Centre of Excellence is expected to be ready late next year in time for Raiders pre-season for the 2020 season.
Northbourne Oval will become the Raiders’ primary training facility, with locker rooms and player facilities, indoor and outdoor training spaces and facilities for associated training and support staff.
The centre includes sports and recreation areas, a grassed oval playing area, training areas, adjacent viewing areas, as well as housing the Canberra District Rugby League Football Club (CDRL) headquarters and administrative units.
The project involves the demolition of existing buildings and the construction of a two-storey building but no alterations to the playing field.
In a pre-2018 ACT Budget announcement, the ACT Government said it would provide $5 million over three years for the new state-of-the-art facility, with the NSW Government pledging $4 million and the Raiders Group funding the rest.
ACT Sports Minister Yvette Berry and NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro joined Raiders representatives in Braddon to officially turn the first sod for the construction of the new $19 million facilities.
Canberra Raiders chief Don Furner said the centre would attract senior and junior players to Canberra in the future so the Raiders can retain the talent in Southern NSW.
“The investment by both the ACT and NSW Governments has given us the ability to provide a facility which will service the entire region,” Furner said.
“This centre will provide a world-class rugby league facility to help service and grow the game from all around our region including the ACT, Queanbeyan, Goulburn, Cooma, the Hilltops region, the South Coast and the Riverina.”
Deputy Premier of NSW and Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the facility will benefit hundreds of young rugby league players and fans in both southern NSW and the ACT.
“Players across southern NSW will benefit with borderless access to high-level coaching, training and mentoring at this brand new, purpose-built centre.
“Our governments have worked together with the best interests of local sports enthusiasts at the core of our actions, and we will soon have a terrific facility to show for it.”
ACT Sports Minister Yvette Berry said the new facility will also significantly enhance programs for women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and junior players across the ACT and southern NSW.
“This facility will benefit not only elite athletes but the broader rugby league community by hosting grassroots rugby league, school coaching clinics, ACT and school touch football competitions, community coaching programs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carnivals,” she said.
“Facilities like these are so important to help encourage our kids to stay active and provide a stepping stone for young Canberrans with dreams to progress their sporting careers.”