By Joanne Vella
9 June 2009 - Canterbury-Bankstown Express
THE Bulldogs are on a $25 million rescue mission to build a jobs training centre on the Belmore Sports Ground site but have sidelined plans to play NRL matches there permanently.
The club, which owns the site, will learn as early as July 1 if it has successfully secured the funding under the Federal Government's job stimulus plan.
It has formed a joint proposal with job recruitment agency IPA to assist the long-term unemployed in the district.
The plan was devised in a bid to cut the Banktown-Canterbury's alarming 10.1 per cent unemployment rate and eventually house the club's administration staff at the site.
Bulldogs chief executive officer Todd Greenberg said the centre would employ up to 60 people and be built at the back of the grandstand. It has lodged its 100-page submission to the Federal Government.
"We're putting a lot of work into it and a range of stakeholders are involved to make this a community project," Mr Greenberg said. "We're trying to put a community facility back in Belmore."
Facilities such as lecture and board rooms would also be used by the club.
Mr Greenberg said the project would be a stepping stone to the Bulldogs' return to set up administration facilities at Belmore but ruled out a full-time return to play NRL matches there.
"I think it is the first step in what is going to be a long process but we have no intention to play all our games at Belmore." Canterbury Council has endorsed the club's submission.
Mr Greenerg said as few as three matches would be played but not until its contract at ANZ resumes in 2015.
Back to Belmore president Luke Brailey backed the proposal, saying it was a win for the district.
"Our committee is fully supportive of any measure that the club and Federal Government will employ," he said. "If this is through sport or employment, then we are supportive of it."
Mr Brailey said the group was satisfied with the club's decision to play just three games at Belmore by 2015 because it would coincide wth its 80th anniversary.
"Three games was our ideal target", he said.