The Federal Government has made good on its pre-election pledge of $8 million to help finance the transformation of the Whitten Oval and its surrounds.
Western Bulldogs president David Smorgon and the club's chief executive officer Campbell Rose met with Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra on Tuesday, and were reassured that the critical financial contribution towards the $19.5 million redevelopment would be honoured.
Despite the Prime Minister's visit to the Whitten Oval in September, when the plans for the extreme makeover of the ground and its surrounds were announced during the election campaign, there has been speculation that the government funding was in doubt.
However the Bulldogs maintained they had no reason to believe the funds would not come through.
It has been proposed that a child care centre, conference and convention facilities, high-tech sports and health care centre and retail development will be built. And that the Whitten Stand will be overhauled, the surface of the ground improved and a 'Heroes of the West' hall of fame centre erected as part of the project.
Smorgon said in September that the proposed reconstruction was the best thing to happen to the club since its sole premiership in 1954.
The ruling Victorian Labor government has promised a $3 million contribution, the AFL has pledged $3.5 million, and local councils in the western region have promised a combined total of $2 million towards the development.
“The Federal Government’s commitment to, and approval of, the $8 million towards the redevelopment of Whitten Oval marks a significant milestone," Rose said on Tuesday.
“We are grateful to the Federal Government, as we are our other partners – the AFL, Victorian Government, the Forever Foundation and local municipal councils, for their continued support in the redevelopment of Whitten Oval."
“The redevelopment will be a major achievement for the Western Bulldogs and the community of western Melbourne. The Whitten Oval will become a hub for all community activity including sport and health, and we look forward to taking the next step in this project."
Rose and Smorgon presented the Prime Minister with a Bulldogs membership during their meeting, and are hopeful he will attend one of the Dogs' matches in 2005.