Southern Pavilion at Princes Park under increasing pressure

The Southern Pavilion at Princes Park (Photography by Isadora Bogle)
The Southern Pavilion at Princes Park (Photography by Isadora Bogle)

The Southern Pavilion, which services the southern sporting ground at Princes Park, is under pressure from increasing community demand, and sports groups want the Melbourne City Council to take action.

The Princes Park Master Plan, a document outlining the strategic direction and management of the Park over the next 10 years and published by the City of Melbourne in 2012 after extensive community consultation, recommended a review of the capacity of the southern pavilion to accommodate increased usage as well as supporting the use of the grounds for casual and informal recreation and organised competition sports.

FC Birrarung is a junior soccer club and one of a number of clubs sharing the cramped Southern Pavilion.

Ross McGavrie, FC Birrarung committee member, said although the City of Melbourne has tracked the increasing usage year on year, a formal review is yet to be conducted by the Council.

In the five years since the Master Plan was published, sporting groups have agitated for redevelopment of the southern sports fields, including the Southern Pavilion.

In 2013 an online petition was initiated by the Melbourne University Soccer Club calling for the City of Melbourne to approve “long overdue” upgrades to the southern area of Princes Park including refurbishing the “below average” Southern Pavilion for equipment storage, changing areas and social events and the implementation of sports lighting around the perimeter of the southern sports fields.

State Government funding ensured the installation of the lights alongside new turf, drainage and irrigation systems on the southern sports fields in 2015.

Marcus Coglan, a father of FC Birrarung player and Carlton North local said the facilities at the Southern Pavilion are under pressure.

“They are sub-functional in terms of the demand that’s placed on them. We’ve spent a whole heap of money making world class soccer fields which the community have embraced, and are utilizing it to an enormous degree.”

Andrew Young, Secretary of the Melbourne Chinese Soccer Association (MCSA) who use the southern sporting ground, said “We were really excited when they (the Council) said they could upgrade the pavilion- but it hasn’t happened yet.”

The MCSA are planning to have women’s teams next year and the lack of pavilion access will rule out the southern sporting ground at Princes Park for those teams.

Mr Young also said the facility improvement was not on the agenda in a pre-season meeting with the Council this year.

FC Birrarung Committee member Tina Wilkins is also concerned about the Southern Pavilion not providing for increasing demand from women and girls wanting to play soccer.

“It’s a really lovely building but it’s very out of date and there are no change rooms specifically for women and girls.”

A spokesperson for the City of Melbourne was not available for comment.

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