Future of football tied to WIN stadium

FOOTBALL

Chairman Eddy De Gabriele believes Football South Coast must now focus on maximising WIN Stadium's potential as an elite venue, after being denied funding for the West Dapto 'home of football' complex.

The West Dapto development failed to secure $7.4 million under the new Coalition government's Community Development Grants Program, as well as missing out on a $7.6 million slice of the Port leasing cash on Wednesday.

The project was the centrepiece of Football South Coast's blueprint to have elite training and playing facilities at West Dapto, as a pathway to increased use of WIN Stadium for semi-professional, W-League, Matildas and even A-League fixtures.

With the beachside venue's usage to be 'down 30 per cent', hosting four St George Illawarra NRL games each season for the next four years, De Gabriele believes football was ideally positioned to fill the void.

"Surely an investment in a home of football for those 18,000 [players in the region] would have made a return for the state government through [increased] use of WIN Stadium [as a result]," De Gabriele said.

"A large asset like WIN Stadium, that the government has ploughed a lot of money into, should be used by the community.

"The best prospect for maximising the use of WIN Stadium is football."

Football has been without a home in the Illawarra since 2003, after giving up Brandon Park in the fallout of the now defunct NSL.

The South Coast Wolves, in particular, are yet to find a permanent playing facility, or even a training ground.

De Gabriele remains adamant the West Dapto 'home of football' construction - in combination with increased usage of WIN Stadium to enhance the region's ability to host elite sporting competitions and events - would provide a viable economic benefit.

"Even if you just had W-League, Youth League and Wolves, that would give that stadium 29 weeks of the year usage, without adding A-League," De Gabriele said.

"If I add a match of the round for Illawarra Premier League, then you have an additional 22 games."

Without necessary funds, the West Dapto project remains at a standstill.

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