BIG PLANS: President of Fraser Coast Rugby League Steve Einam (centre) and Eskdale Park trustee Cathy Lethbridge survey the park.
BIG PLANS: President of Fraser Coast Rugby League Steve Einam (centre) and Eskdale Park trustee Cathy Lethbridge survey the park. Blake Antrobus

$500,000 upgrade to transform park

A PROPOSED $500,000 upgrade to Maryborough's Eskdale Park could create a "showpiece" of rugby league in the Wide Bay region.

But combined with potential upgrades to the Heritage City's netball courts and a proposed PCYC, it could mean the first signs of the Heritage City's very own miniature Sports Precinct.

The proposed upgrades would give Maryborough enough footing to host more rugby league and netball games to compete with the proposed multi-million dollar Sports Precinct project in Hervey Bay.

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Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders said the investment in Eskdale Park would go towards improving the lighting, grandstands, dressing sheds and toilets at the discretion of the Eskdale Park trust board.

He said the upgrades could draw potential NRL trial and Intrust Super Cup games once completed.

"People don't want to come and sit in grounds from 1913 today; they want to sit in decent facilities," Mr Saunders said.

"We have to make sure the grounds are adequate."

The park was the site of one of the first rounds of rugby league between Brisbane and Maryborough teams in 1909.

Last year, about $30,000 in State Government grants was spent on a new ticketing booth and shed.

Mr Saunders also hinted at upgrades to the netball courts and a potential PCYC down the track.

But he dismissed any potential conflict with the council's proposed Sports Precinct.

"I'm not interested what the council does," Mr Saunders said.

"What I'm trying to do is get kids active again, why should the kids of Maryborough be disadvantaged? Why should they not have the same facilities as children elsewhere?

"Eskdale Park is part of the Heritage City, it's part of the fabric of Maryborough.

"It's fallen into disrepair over the years.

"Eskdale Park is the home of rugby league in Wide Bay, it had the first competition rugby league games in Queensland, and it's just as much a part of Maryborough city as the Mary River."

Earthworks on the site of the controversial Hervey Bay project started this year.

In December 2016, $7.5 million was allocated for the bulk earthworks and site preparation and $2.5 million for the "improvement and upgrading to sporting and recreational facilities" according to council documents.

President of Rugby League Fraser Coast Steve Einam said the proposed upgrades to Eskdale Park would be a drawcard for the Fraser Coast region.

He said there was a fair bit of work to be done to attract high-end games like the Intrust Super Cup.

"If we want any Intrust Super Cup games here, you need to have 200 luxpower," Mr Einam said.

"At the moment we have 100 luxpower on the main field, on the training field it's only about 60 lux.

"Lighting needs to be done, we want the toilets upgraded to wheelchair facilities, and we have just finished the canteen, but we want to do all the dressing sheds."

But the announcement has Maryborough's LNP candidate Richard Kingston sceptical.

"Eskdale Park needed upgrading 20 years ago," Mr Kingston said.

"Now all of a sudden there's an election and an upgrade comes around.

"It appears the levels of government aren't communicating on sport needs in the region, given if money is being thrown around for spending like this."

The Eskdale Park committee will decide on the full application of the funding at a later date.



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