Plans for a state-of-the-art indoor rodeo arena in Wagga have been revealed, with proponents predicting it could be a windfall for the community.
Equex Outdoor Association said Wagga was ideally positioned to draw a massive number of people to the city from across Australia and brought development consultants to the city this week to develop a case for the proposed world-class rodeo and campdraft facility.
Former Wagga councillor Garry Hiscock said he was tired of waiting for someone to pay for a feasibility study to see whether the project could get off the ground, so the Equex Outdoor Association was paying for one itself.
“This is something that should have been done a long time ago,” Mr Hiscock said.
“We’re been stuffed around for too long so we’re biting the bullet and doing it ourselves.
“We just need to get on and build this for our city.”
Mr Hiscock said the world-class facility would be the envy of the nation and would bring millions of dollars to the city.
“Tamworth’s facility injects millions of dollars into their economy every year and we have nothing like it, which is scandalous,” Mr Hiscock said.
“This is big money, not small change.”
Suspended council general manager Alan Eldridge revived talk of a major rodeo and campdraft facility after a trip to Tamworth in January.
At the time, Wagga rodeo stalwart John Gill, who was involved in a failed bid to develop Equex Park in 2008, told The Daily Advertiser he had lobbied Mr Eldridge during an event at Tamworth’s Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC).
“The arena is fine, the prize money attracts competitors, what we need is decent facilities for the paying public, so you're not in the heat and not in the rain,” Mr Gill said. “We’ve been talking about it here for years, and that’s all it’s been, talk.”
However, some doubted the facility would be able to attract anywhere near the $30 million in government funding AELEC received, with former mayor Kerry Pascoe saying the project “would bankrupt Wagga”.
Wagga Business Chamber and Committee 4 Wagga (C4W) were briefed on the plans by Mr Hiscock and consultants this week. C4W chief Chris Fitzpatrick said he would wait to see the results of the study before discussing it with his group, but chamber manager Anabel Williams was a little more pragmatic.
“Any development of this scale would be advantageous to Wagga and the businesses I represent,” Mrs Williams said.
“I was very impressed with Mr Hiscock’s drive and passion and will do what we can to help.”
According to Mr Hiscock, the “city of good sports” accommodated many other sports like football, netball and basketball, but there was a real need for an improved rodeo arena.
“At Equex there’s nothing undercover, just blowflies, dust and portaloos,” he said.
“You need to hire everything and bring it in so you don’t make and money by the time you’re done.
“We’ve got to start somewhere, so we’ll see if the experts say if it’s viable or not.”