ACT government haven’t closed door on Canberrans using Manuka Oval
ACT government director of venues Liz Clarke says it's a "balancing act" to ensure Manuka Oval is utilised by Canberrans, while maintaining it's status as an elite facility.
Manuka could be used just six times a year as Canberra's cricket and Australian football competitions move to the redeveloped Phillip Oval next month.
AFL Canberra will return for its senior grand finals in September for what could be the the final time, with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr keen to keep the ground for elite sports.
It means Manuka is set to become a sporting ghost town that will only be used for the occasional national and international sporting fixture.
Manuka will host an historic first Test match this summer between Australia and Sri Lanka and Clarke was at the venue to launch ticket sales last week.
The director described Manuka as an "amazing" facility and said she wouldn't close the door on Canberra's community clubs utilising the venue moving forward.
"I think its a balance, its an elite ground but we do have a lot of local content that we actually do play here both AFL as well as cricket and well continue to have that relationship," Clarke said.
"However, its been really fantastic to see Phillip [Oval] coming on board and thats an amazing venue as well.
"This [Manuka] oval is amazing to watch cricket, international cricket, amazing matches like the Cricket World Cup, Big Bash League final, the BBL last year as well as the womens Test.
"So weve had some really good content, weve got it and weve proven that. Weve got Canberrans coming to see the game so now were getting the structures in place as well."
Manuka is currently under construction, with a new media centre being built for the Test, and Clarke suggested the upgraded facility could be in line for further international cricket content.
"It [media centre] is going to be fantastic…. it really cements our position for international cricket and well be seeing a lot more in the future."
Meanwhile, on the back of Fairfax Media's Grounds for Concern series lifting the lid on a need for better sporting facilities throughout Canberra, the ACT government will upgrade Hawker playing fields.
The grounds outdated irrigation system will be replaced, with a booster pump to be installed to improve the watering system.
The fields will be closed from July 8 and the works are due to be completed in September but may require a restoration period before they are reopened.
Belsouth Football Club will move games and training to nearby ovals, while some of the football clubs games have been relocated to the Scullin Oval.
"These upgrades will help keep the ground fit for play for the Belsouth Football Club, visiting teams and recreational users," an ACT government spokesperson said.
Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times
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