IT has been 15 years in the making, but Willetton Basketball Stadium’s long-awaited $10 million upgrade has finally begun.
The sod has officially been turned to mark the start of the stadium’s expansion, which will double the number of courts from four to eight and include new change rooms, storage rooms, toilets, administration and social areas.
For Willetton Basketball Association president Phil Nixon, the start of the upgrades signal an end to a battle he has been fighting since 2003.
The association has overseen a boom in participation numbers in the area, but have lacked the facilities to cater for the demand.
“At the start of every season, we try and fill all the spots and get most of the waiting list down,” Mr Nixon said.
“We create teams, we’re playing at four venues on Saturdays, but within two weeks the waiting list starts building again.”
Mr Nixon estimated their numbers had increased by around 50 per cent since 2003 and said they had gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure as many people as possible got a game.
“We extended the hours we were playing, we started earlier and finished later, we shortened the games and the periods between games to create playing spots,” he said.
“When we absolutely maxed out as far as this facility was concerned, we looked at some satellite facilities.
“We took one court at Leeming on Saturday morning and said ‘that should buy us six months’. We filled it in two weeks.”
Tangney MP Ben Morton paid tribute to everyone who had helped get the project moving over the last 15 years.
“This would be my proudest achievement as a local member, I made a commitment I’d see this through, the fact the funding is being delivered and construction is starting is something I’m really proud of,” he said.
“But that’s not to take away from Phil and his board, who are the real champions behind making this happen today.”
The Federal Government have committed $5.5 million to the upgrade, with the City of Canning providing $2.2 million, the State Government supplying $1.5 million and the Willetton Basketball Association chipping in up to $1 million.
Work will begin next month and the upgrades are expected to be completed by early 2020.