Iemma announces Leichhardt Oval upgrade

The $5.5 million redevelopment of historic Leichhardt Oval moved another positive step forward following an announcement by NSW Premier Morris Iemma on Tuesday, March 13.

The Iemma Government will contribute $1.5 million to the upgrade with Wests Tigers seeking roughly a third each of the remainder from Leichhardt Oval and private funding.

Mr Iemma was joined for the announcement at Leichhardt Oval by Wests Tigers players Ben Galea, Robbie Farah and Dene Halatau.

Balmain Tigers legends Paul Sironen and Ben Elias were also on hand as was Wests Tigers Deputy Chairman David Trodden and Balmain Leagues Club CEO Tim Camiller.

Labor Candidate for Balmain Verity Firth was also present.

"Upgrading Leichhardt Oval to modern contemporary standards will provide new and improved services for the hardworking families of the Inner West,'' Mr Iemma said.

Upgrade plans of Leichhardt Oval, which is almost 100 years old, include modernised change rooms, corporate boxes and spectator areas with a lift for the new grandstand, a new grassed playing field surface, replacing of old timber seating, and new ground lighting (flood lighting already completed).

Other plans include new turnstiles, electronic scoreboard, and additional new toilet facilities.

Mr Iemma said the last major works on the oval were around 35 years ago when the main grandstand, known as the Latchem Robinson Stand, was constructed by Leichhardt Council in conjunction with Balmain Leagues Club.

"There was an overhaul of the playing surface in the early 1990s but this is a major upgrade which will bring this ground into the 21st century,'' he said.

Mr Iemma said the oval is crown land and required a formal plan of management to set the strategic framework for the park and any redevelopment.

The Tigers have now committed to a 20 year lease of the oval and the plan of management has been officially endorsed by the community and adopted by council.

The $1.5 million grant is funded from existing recurrent allocations in 2006/2007. The grant is in addition to a $1 million loan announced last year and is funded from existing budgets.