By Brett Cox
June 20, 2006 - Canterbury-Bankstown Express
A Bulldogs fan who lives a few streets from Belmore Sports Ground is attempting to put the future of the ground back on the political agenda.
Luke Brailey, who is working to re-ignite a "Back to Belmore" campaign for the Canterbury Bulldogs, believes the ground is in danger of becoming a "white elephant."
But with the football club confirming it plans to honour its 15-year deal to play home games from Telstra Stadium at Olympic Park, Mr Brailey admits his is a long-term goal.
"I'm campaigning first of all for Belmore to be upgraded and second for the Bulldogs returning there eventually or at least play some games there," he said. "We have a stadium that could potentially be a great community asset to this area."
Mr Brailey said he had written to Federal Sports Minister Rod Kemp and approached Opposition Leader Kim Beazley about the campaign. He said Mr Beazley told him this type of decision would need to be made by a specially formed infrastructure council under a federal Labor government.
Mr Brailey said securing funding had become a political game requiring the support of Members of Parliament. "I think it should be a level playing field," he said. Mr Brailey has also set up a website www.backtobelmore.com.au to help launch his campaign and says he plans to run for a place on the Bulldogs board in 2009.
A Bulldogs spokesman told The Express the move from Belmore to Homebush had increased the team's average crowd from 8,000 per game to about 17,000. "It is the best stadium in Australia," he said. "With the crowds we're getting at Telstra, we couldn't fit them in at Belmore."
Canterbury City Council general manager Jim Montague said the ground was used by Sydney Olympic Football Club for training and home games. Mr Montague was coy when asked about the council's plans for the ground: "We are considering a range of options for the future use of Belmore Sports Ground."