David Gillespie

Taree and the Manning Valley will soon be home to one of the Mid North Coast’s largest regional indoor sporting and entertainment facilities thanks to the NSW Nationals in the state and federal governments.

The current Saxbys Stadium will be expanded and transformed into the “Iron Arena” as part of a major upgrade thanks to more than $8.2-million from the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund – a joint initiative of the NSW Nationals in the state and federal governments.

Federal NSW Nationals Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie and state NSW Nationals Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead secured hundreds of millions of dollars towards a range of programs designed to assist bushfire-affected communities get back on their feet. The pair announced $8,251,100 in funding to deliver one of the most significant community infrastructure projects the Manning Valley has seen in decades.

Dr Gillespie said that when complete, the Iron Arena would provide a transformative change for the local economy attracting a range of high profile events at the local, regional, state and national level.

“Iron Arena will cater for a range of activities including increased participation in sport, by meeting latent demand, especially in Basketball and Futsal and a range of new sports such as volleyball and indoor hockey, as well as hosting trade shows and concerts,” Dr Gillespie said.

Mr Bromhead said the project consists of an expanding and redeveloping the facility to include five indoor courts and the installation of retractable seats to create a ‘show court’ for larger scale sporting and entertainment events seating 1300 patrons.

“This funding will transform Saxby Stadium into a regional complex fit to host major sporting and entertainment events, support the health and wellbeing of locals and the careers of rising sports stars,” Mr Bromhead said.

“Sport is such an integral part of our community, and while the current stadium has served the community well for 40 years, the added floorspace will accommodate more hours of competitions, social matches and training sessions.”

Dr Gillespie said the investment in Iron Arena will provide benefits for the community beyond sporting groups by driving a sustained boost to the local economy.

“This project is shovel-ready and will immediately deliver much-needed stimulation to our region’s economy which has been ravaged as a result of drought, bushfires, and COVID-19,” Dr Gillespie said.

Once complete, Iron Arena will be a premier sport and events facility, driving events-based tourism around high profile competitions which can be hosted locally.

“These events and sporting competitions bring in talent, coaches, organisers, families, and friends who will spend with local accommodation providers, eateries and retailers,” Dr Gillespie said.

“The NSW Nationals in Government are backing projects that will put people back in work, retain existing jobs and stimulate our region’s economy with a focus on improving essential community infrastructure and industry development,” Mr Bromhead said.