WIN Entertainment Centre upgrade yet to commence despite ‘priority’
Almost one year after the NSW Government said it was a priority to upgrade the WIN Entertainment Centre, work is yet to commence on the Wollongong venue.
A report in May 2020 suggested the Illawarra region was missing out on hosting major indoor events due to a lack of investment into the Entertainment Centre. The report went as far as saying the venue, opened in 1998, is “not fit for purpose”.
In February last year, an NBL game was abandoned due to a leaking roof amid farcical scenes.
The 6,000-capacity venue is home of NBL team Illawarra Hawks who’ll play their first home game of the 2020/21 season on Wednesday night against Melbourne United.
NSW Sports Minister Geoff Lee has reportable said it is now up to Wollongong City Council to take the next step towards upgrading the Government-owned facility.
The Illawarra Mercury recently reported that Labor Member for Wollongong Paul Scully said time was running out to upgrade the venue before the UCI Road World Championships of cycling in 2022.
Speaking in front of the Centre, he said the agency which owned the WEC, Venues NSW, had written to Mr Lee last February requesting funding, and saying "the time to commit to the future of [the project] is now".
"The minister promised the WEC upgrade would be a 'priority' - his words - after the debacle of the roof leak on this very day last year," Mr Scully said.
"Yet 12 months on we have absolutely nothing to show for it - the stakeholder report that the minister has had for a year hasn't even been released.
The 21-year-old venue has had little investment since it opened its doors and when asked about the delay, Geoff Lee said it was now up to Wollongong City Council to begin a planning process.
"Priorities for the Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct have been strengthened by the formation of the new Venues NSW entity, which includes Wollongong representation on the board," Dr Lee said.
"The NSW Government requested Wollongong City Council begin a planning process for the future of the precinct."
He said the Government was "working collaboratively" with council on the planning process.
In 2016, NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley committed to a $50 million upgrade to Wollongong's Entertainment Centre if his party was to win the election, to make the WIN Entertainment Centre the second-largest in the state.