|The CEO of NSW Baseball, Glen Willot, says it’s crucial for the future of Baseball in his state that the new Australian Baseball League becomes a success.
The Sydney side will play out of the Blacktown Olympic Stadium and will have seating for 1200 and a capacity of up to 2000 people, with ability in the future to expand to a 5-10,000 sized venue.
“The baseball public is just thirsting for something to enjoy. There are no plans in place at the moment, but we do have room for increased seating, that would involve capital infrastructure”
The need for the Australian Baseball League to rejuvenate baseball is further shown when you understand the state government funding being significantly less than what the Western Australian Baseball Association receives from its sports department.
“We enjoy a very good relationship with the Department of Sport and Recreation, we are considered a category six sport of $40,000. But we get nothing like the funding that WA Baseball gets from its Department of Sport.”
With a new Australian Baseball League, it comes at the risk of a drop in funds as it becomes a category one sport team. “It would potentially decrease, a Category 1 team gets around 5,000-10,000.”
With the discrepancy of how much funding each state is given for baseball, it is expected that the ABL will maintain the purse strings and authority for the first 3-5 years.
Willot then outlines that this is why the ABF have been cautious in the development of the Australian Baseball League, when as Austadiums.com revealed, the start date of November 2007 was initially put forward.
“Which is why the ABF did not rush into the competition for November 2007, it needs to be sustainable, very mindful that the planning will be secure and it will revitalise the sport.”
The location of Blacktown is hardly an issue for Willot, who says it will not suffer in the way that there is opposition from many in Melbourne in going to Altona and Geelong.
“Well we may be a little different to Victoria, we cater for very healthy crowd numbers at the Olympics, and we certainly have the space to provide for greater numbers.”
“I don't think it will be an issue, the expressways and freeways here, they all pretty well link to Blacktown Olympic Park.”
The five year plan for sporting facilities in New South Wales is being conducted with various city councils around the state and is being done with the upcoming launch of the Australian Baseball League in mind.
"It's an ever increasing problem, with the demands of other sports for playing facilities. We are looking at the five year greenspace sporting plans. It’s on the agenda of Sydney Council for more green space for what individual sports’ needs are.”
“I think we have quite a pro-active plan and that is going to be under-pinned by the Australian Baseball league.”
By Chris Egan