Fremantle’s hockey club is likely to quit the port city and move south to Cockburn.
President Martin Spencer confirmed to the Herald that 10 years of trying to get artificial turf laid in Fremantle have come to nought, so the 80-year-old club is deep in discussion with Cockburn council about securing a site at the South Lakes Recreation Centre.
If it goes ahead, the move will cost a fraction of the $113 million Cockburn plans to spend to woo the Fremantle Dockers out of the port city: Mr Spencer estimates grass and artificial turf fields, and a new clubhouse, can be done for around $4m.
He’s hoping for a joint funding arrangement between the club, Hockey WA, the council, the WA’s sport and recreation department and possibly a corporate sponsor, with repayments spread over 10 years.
“We’d prefer to stay at Stevens Reserve (above the Western Power sub-station), but there’s not much room,” Mr Spencer told the Herald.
“We’ve looked at a number of possible parks in Fremantle over the years, but there’s always something not quite right—there’s a club on there already, there’s bushland, an engineering problem.”
He says Fremantle council had flagged expanding Stevens reserve into an adjoining sub-division to give the club more room, but he doesn’t think that’s going anywhere.
Like the Dockers, the hockey club is eyeing off the opportunities that come with the massive population growth of the southern city. Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the attraction Cockburn has for sporting clubs keen to grow membership.
Between 2007 and 2011, the number of youngsters in the key 10- to 19-year-old demographic in Cockburn increased by almost 1000 (11,344 to 12,286) while in Fremantle they declined from an already low base of 2574.
“The catchment for youth down there is very good,” Mr Spencer says.
The notion of opening a satellite club down south while staying on the grass fields at Stevens Reserve (considered some of Perth’s best in Perth) was toyed with, but Mr Spencer says members aren’t keen on the idea.
Already, half their players troop off each week to play on the artificial turf at Curtin University.
He says Hockey WA is supportive of the move, as it’s keen to get a presence in hockey-barren Cockburn.
“We need to make a decision by the start of the 2014 season if we’re going to move, and then be on the turf by 2016,” Mr Spencer told the Herald.
by STEVE GRANT