Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness (SUSF) officially opened its $13 million multi-sport TAG Family Foundation Grandstand at University Oval No. 2 on Wednesday, April 6, witnessed by 300 guests.
The ceremony was held in the Grandstand’s function room, with untrammelled views of the revamped playing arena now home to the Sydney Uni Football Club (SUFC) and Sydney Uni Soccer Football Club (SUSFC).
Resounding applause accompanied the distinguished University of Sydney Chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson, as she cut the ribbon to open the magnificent facility alongside SUSF Executive Director Rob Smithies and SUSF President Bruce Ross.
The Chancellor thanked all involved in the project and was thrilled to be able to deliver a facility which will nurture student athletes for decades to come.
“The facility’s fruition is an absolute triumph for the entire University community and I look forward to many high-quality games on these grounds,” said Hutchinson.
Mr Smithies was justifiably proud of the latest sporting infrastructure development at Australia’s premier university.
“We’re confident the addition of the Grandstand will transform the future of sport on this campus and are very grateful to everyone at the University who has helped us to build the next generation of sports facilities,” said Smithies.
Designed to provide the latest in comfort for 1,100 spectators, the state-of-the-art structure is not just a viewing platform as it strategically incorporates additional facilities underneath and around the new grandstand. With no half measures taken, the site boasts an impressive two-level, high-performance strength and conditioning gym, named after its benefactor and rugby club stalwart, David Mortimer, as well as four spacious change rooms.
Maximising every design opportunity to accommodate SUSF’s growing team-sports program, other features include an array of club offices, a meeting room, a grounds storage area, a purpose-built medical room and a much needed lunch room for grounds staff. Adjacent to the change rooms are three indoor cricket nets, to be formally recognised as the Martin Lambert Cricket Centre.
Put quite simply by President Bruce Ross, “The high standard facility is now worthy of our high achieving academic athletes.”
While planning for the new Grandstand began in earnest during 2009, the dream to provide a world-class home for our rugby and football teams, who have struggled to share the over-worked Oval No. 1 with our Cricket and AFL teams, first emerged shortly after World War II. Until now only Oval No.1 has offered a suitable grandstand and standard of facilities required by all these codes but this spectacular development changes all that.
Together with the $15 million Sports & Aquatic Centre extension which was finished in 2013, the completion of this new grandstand takes pressure off Oval No.1 and sees the University of Sydney finalise the suite of sports facilities that was promised after the demolition of the old HK Ward gymnasium, which made way for the Charles Perkins Centre.
A lot of progress has been made since 2008 thanks to the vision and support of all those passionate about sport at Sydney Uni.
“I was fortunate enough to become SUSF Executive Director some 8 years ago, and at that time our clubs were in good shape but the facilities that we were housing them in were aging and in some cases, mediocre. For some of our teams renting off-campus was the only option if they wanted to play in the top leagues.”
“I’m proud to say that SUSF has now officially completed a $28 million build program between 2012 and 2016 made possible through inspiring philanthropy, including that of Anton Tagliaferro who made the largest ever donation to SUSF in the sum of one million dollars towards this grandstand,” he said.
As well as expressing sincere appreciation to the University, Mr Smithies paid tribute to the TAG Family Foundation, as the major donor to the Grandstand project, David Mortimer for his gift to fund the high performance gym set to enhance training and skill development across the board, Sydney Uni Soccer Football Club who donated $500,000, Barry Lambert who made a significant donation to obtain naming rights to the indoor cricket nets and the 200 plus other contributors who have donated well in excess of $2.4 million.
The Executive Director made particular mention of SUSF’s Operations and Infrastructure Manager Ed Smith and his team, who oversaw every detail of the building from start to finish and worked tirelessly with hawkeye attention to detail; Campus Infrastructure Services for their enormous amount of work and negotiations across every aspect of the build; Rodney Tubbs and David Collins for persevering and ultimately delivering on the “Building on Excellence Campaign”; the personal generosity of President Bruce Ross who backed every stage of the overall SUSF endeavour; and last but certainly not least the dedicated crew of SUSF staff who have been instrumental in making sure this last piece of the puzzle fell into place.
The brand new development in conjunction with existing SUSF offerings, including the successful Elite Athlete Program, now places Sydney University as the club of choice for budding student-athletes.