By Nathan Klein
11 December 2007 - Canterbury-Bankstown Express
CANTERBURY Mayor Robert Furolo has denied claims Belmore Sports Ground will be transformed into an aquatic centre within the next year, slamming them as "ridiculous".
Speculation that the Bulldogs' old home ground would be bulldozed in January 2008 to make way for a new aquatic centre arose in Rugby League Review magazine's summer edition.
Back to Belmore president Luke Brailey said an aquatic centre was "not in the best interests of the local community" as there were already similar facilities at Canterbury, Roselands, Greenacre and Ashfield.
"Belmore Sports Ground is the Bulldogs' spiritual kennel and is central to Belmore's identity," Mr Brailey said. "I encourage the Bulldogs not to relinquish their lease and ensure that the Bulldogs' NRL team can one day return to the venue."
Canterbury Council's city plan includes plans to implement a new aquatic centre in the Canterbury region by 2013, according to Mr Brailey.
"Back to Belmore understands why Canterbury Council is looking at alternative options for the site, as the Bulldogs have clearly failed to tackle entrenched problems such as dilapidation and deterioration, that have crippled Belmore Sports Ground," Mr Brailey said.
"However any discussion of an aquatic centre should immediately be put on hold and discussions need to commence with the Bulldogs, Canterbury Council and the State and Federal governments so that Belmore can again become the Bulldogs' rightful home ground."
Although Cr Furolo said the site would not be demolished over the next 12 months, he didn't rule out the possibility of using it for recreational purposes in the future.
"As it is a major community asset council must now deal with the potential future uses of the sports ground so that local residents are not left with an unused facility," Cr Furolo said.
He said that Belmore Sports Ground had long been a centre of sporting excellence the council would examine options to use it and surrounding grounds to expand and improve sporting and recreation opportunities for residents.
"If the Bulldogs Football Club wish to remain at Belmore Sports Ground, or plan to bring games back to their traditional ground, the council is ready and willing to listen to them.
"However, we must make sure we commence the planning for the site in the event they do not take up the offer," Cr Furolo said.