Belmore Sports Ground, the spiritual home of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, will be brought back to life with a $4.9 million facelift. The iconic suburban ground will be transformed into a centre of excellence in a redevelopment jointly funded by the Federal Government, Canterbury City Council and the Bulldogs.
It will transform the largely derelict and underused ground into a much-improved facility for the Bulldogs' NRL team, local clubs and the Canterbury-Bankstown community.
Back to Belmore Operations Manager Steven Cataldi praised the government and Canterbury City Council for their foresight.
"The Back to Belmore lobby group is thrilled at today's announcement that Belmore Sports Ground has gained a $5 million grant from the Federal Government," he said.
"Back to Belmore is absolutely delighted to have played a small but pivotal role in restoring one of Australia's most beautiful sporting facilities."
An 11:30am press conference was held at Belmore Sports Ground which confirmed that the Bulldogs' spiritual home would receive the long awaited grant.
"This redevelopment will see Belmore Sports Ground transformed from a facility largely unfit for community use into a top class sporting facility," Back to Belmore Vice President Luke Cevolani said.
"This will also be a significant project for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Rugby League Club and its fans, rejuvinating the ground that is part of their lifeblood and history."
Back to Belmore President Luke Brailey is ecstatic about Belmore's grant from the Federal Government and believes that it is the first step in a long process that could ultimately see the Bulldogs return to the venue for a select number of NRL matches, as well as other sporting codes use the facility in the long-term future.
"The $4.9 million grant from the Federal Government should ensure the Bulldogs can return to Belmore for training and that the Club's administrative operations and those of other sporting groups can eventually be run out of the famous venue. This upgrade heralds an exciting new chapter in reaffirming Belmore as a focal point for all sports, not just rugby league." he said.
"Today's announcement is vindication of all our hard work over the past 5 years and a major victory for all sporting bodies in the Canterbury-Bankstown District. We should be confident that Belmore will be able to host major sporting events in the long-term including NRL matches."
Back to Belmore believes that Belmore Sports Ground wouldn't have received the Federal Government funding if there hadn't been a change in the Football Club's Board structure in 2008.
"I commend the current Board for their renewed focus on Belmore Sports Ground since 2008. I have found the Board to be particularly supportive, and Chairman Ray Dib and CEO Todd Greenberg must be congratulated for the many long hours they have put into the grant application with the Federal Government," Mr Brailey said.
Back to Belmore is keen to maintain positive relations with supporters, the Bulldogs' Club and all Governmental bodies.
The Back to Belmore group will continue to work to ensure that Belmore Sports Ground can fulfil its ultimate destiny and host matches for rugby league, rugby union, soccer and other major sporting and community functions going forward.
"Many cynics claimed that Belmore Sports Ground was dead and that it would never gain a cent from the Government. Many people said that we were wasting our time and that Belmore was a lost cause. We have proven the doubters, the scoffers and the haters wrong. I'm here to say that this is just the beginning and that Belmore Sports Ground will soon underpin all major sporting achievements in the Canterbury-Bankstown area," Mr Brailey said.