Clubs will be on an “even playing field” if recommendations for new fees are adopted, says assistant administrative services manager Peter Arnold.
Mr Arnold said yesterday the proposals had been deeply looked into by committee members with the intention of bringing maintenance costs up to scratch and ensuring all clubs were paying equally.
“Solomontown Football Club should pay the same amount for Globe Oval as the Lions do for Memorial Oval because maintenance for the two is similar in price,” he said. “And the reason for the dramatic increase is because the council has not been charging a lease before.” But Mr Arnold agrees that the facilities at both ovals need upgrading, a matter the committee will look at “down the track”.
He doesn’t believe clubs will close their doors, saying there was a “bit of scare-mongering going on”.
“Clubs need to prove they cannot afford the fees by producing financial statements which some clubs have already done,” he said. “The committee has asked for feedback regarding the issues and we would like to hear from the sport community.”
According to Mr Arnold, the number of ovals maintained by the council is not feasible. “The cost of water is going up, causing the cost of maintaining the ovals to rise,” he said. “We understand and expect that fees will be passed down to players, but we are trying to make sport sustainable and it is not sustainable for the council to maintain all these ovals.” He used the Port Pirie bowling and croquet clubs as an example of sports that pay to maintain their grounds.
“They have fewer players, yet they can afford the costs,” he said.
The Solomontown club argues that clubs in no other country town of similar size have to pay for the lease of their grounds.
But Mr Arnold said the council’s sport and recreation committee was looking only at its “patch of grass” in the council area.
In the coming weeks, the committee will meet the Spencer Gulf League to discuss the changes to fee structure.
Mr Arnold said they look forward to hearing from all clubs.