Wolves CEO Chris Papakosmos believes the redevelopment of Albert Butler Memorial Park will bolster the club’s A-League ambitions, but insists the venue will also become a major sporting hub for the wider Illawarra community.
Work began this week on stage one of the club’s long-term project to upgrade the facility, alongside the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council (ILALC).
While completion of the entire project will hinge on availability of funds, the venue has the potential to become a home of football for the club. It would also provide a massive boost to the Wolves’ A-League aspirations, according to Papakosmos.
“Having something like that or being on the way to developing it will definitely add to an already attractive bid,” he said.
“Of course we will still play at WIN Stadium, but the club always intends to have a presence in the National Premier League as well.
“It’s a long term plan to get these facilities, but it’s not just for us. It’s for the entire community and we want to be able to maximise that.”
The Wolves and the ILALC reached an agreement last December to work on several community projects, including the redevelopment of Albert Butler Memorial Park.
It is hoped the facility will eventually house five full size pitches as well as a Centre of Excellence, academy and community centre.
“We are looking to turn it into the major sporting hub in the region,” Papakosmos said.
“Stage one was pretty much preparation in getting the site ready for what we are hoping will be initial couple of fields which can be utilised by the Wolves, Stingrays, community engagement programs and schools or community groups.
“The exciting thing about today’s stage one is, obviously with the Wolves not flush with funds, but we have a lot of local organisations that have bought into the dream and can see the potential.
“They been donating their expertise and machinery to put us in a position where we can build step by step.”
ILALC chief executive Paul Knight was pleased to see work begin on the site and was excited by the site’s potential as a community hub.
“It is great to see some progress,” he said.
“Hopefully it motivates others to get engaged in the project and come along for the ride.
“The long term vision is for it to be a holistic sports facility that the Aboriginal community and the entire community as a whole can be proud.
“It has the potential to grow in capacity, with great community outcomes.”
The Land Council have the potential to access more land on the 15.5 acres Primbee site.
Knight confirmed he had been in contact with the government to discuss the potential of utilising more Crown Land.
“We have had preliminary discussions to see how we go and potentially to expand it further,” he said.
This season was the first campaign the Wolves have called Albert Butler Memorial Park home.