By Jeanette Stephen
20 February 2008 - The Torch
AN INDOOR sports centre, carpark and playground are among options being pitched for the future of Belmore Oval once the Bulldogs rugby football club cuts its last remaining ties to the sportsground next week.
The Bulldogs wave one last long goodbye to the historic sportsground on Friday, February 29, marking the end of an association that stretches back to the club's beginnings more than seven decades ago.
The relocation of the football club to the former Telstra Stadium reverts control of Belmore Oval back to Canterbury City Council, which last week agreed to pursue a detailed long-term masterplan for the site.
Councillors also voted to continue a shared temoprary lease of the grounds to the Sydney Olympic Soccer and St George Football clubs over the next 12 months, with priority given to the soccer club.
With the departure of the 'Dogs, the future use of the massive site was one that must incorporate community needs, Canterbury Mayor Robert Furolo said.
"The Bulldogs have a proud and long history in the City of Canterbury and no one wants to see them leave Belmore," he said.
"Our love for the game and the Doggies will not diminish because the Bulldogs have chosen not to have Belmore as their home - where they train and play - but I think our communiy is poorer for that."
A report commissioned by the Council presented several potential long-term options for the sportsground, including an indoors sport centre with a pool (on the site of the grandstand).
Other individual proposals included a carpark, lawn bowls green, open space park and playground, town green and sportsfield.
"Whilst the Bulldogs decision is disappointing, it's time for us to turn the stadium and the grouns into something that would benefit the whole community," the Mayor said.
"Belmore Sports Ground has long been a centre of sporting excellence, and it will continue to be."
Belmore Oval and its 5000-seat stadium is situated within the centre of a larger recreational reserve that includes Terry Lamb Reserve, Belmore Bowling and Recreation Club and Peter Moore Field.
In 2001, the Bulldogs Football Club began relocating its games to Sydney Olympic Park and the former Telstra Stadium, retaining its operational headquarters at Belmore.