Work to begin on new Rugby complex at UNE

Published 14 November 2008


Work is about to begin on a new, state-of-the-art sports complex at the University of New England’s Bellevue Oval.

The new complex will include two team change rooms, a referee’s change room and amenities, a first-aid room, a clubhouse, bar and kiosk, an electronic scoreboard, disabled access, and public toilets. “It will make the Bellevue Oval a fantastic field for football in Armidale,” said the Acting Executive Officer of Sport UNE, David Schmude.

Building work on the new complex is to begin this month, and is expected to be finished in April 2009. Visiting the Bellevue Oval yesterday to inaugurate the project, the Vice-Chancellor of UNE, Professor Alan Pettigrew, said the development had been made possible by a grant of $1.2 million from the Federal Government’s Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) Transition Fund for Sporting and Recreational Facilities.

The grant was announced in October last year. In welcoming that announcement, Professor Pettigrew said that it recognised “the important role of Sport UNE in providing first-class sporting facilities not only for the University’s students, but also for the people of Armidale and the New England region”. “More broadly, it recognises the University’s continuing commitment to providing its students with a rich educational experience while contributing to the life of the community,” he continued.

Mr Schmude said that the VSU Transition Fund grant had been supplemented by “generous backing and support from UNE”.

“The new complex will increase the interest in  and the opportunity for  bigger and more important games out of Sport UNE,” he said. “Bellevue Oval is host to around 15,000 visitors a year, and with this facility the numbers are sure to increase.”

The successful tender for construction of the complex was won by National Build Plan a local building group. The building is designed by architects Tim Earnshaw and Partners from North Sydney. Its features include water tanks and the allowance of natural light to encourage energy efficiency and incorporate the environment into the design. It includes a function room, to which the general community will have access.

“It will provide both the University and the wider community with an excellent place to view matches,” Mr Schmude said, “including glass windows so that games can be watched from inside  a benefit during Armidale's frosty winters.”

The field has traditionally been the home ground of two of the University’s Rugby teams: St Albert’s College and Robb College. “Bellevue in the past has also held the New England Rugby Union Finals Series,” Mr Schmude said, “giving the ground greater potential for the future. In addition to Rugby Union, this new UNE facility will also be host to Rugby League and soccer matches.

The development of the complex will be continual, with other stages such as the construction of seating and lighting for night games to be incorporated in the near future.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show (from left) David Schmude, Gerard Stephen (President of Sport UNE) and Professor Alan Pettigrew. It was taken yesterday on the site of the new sports complex at Bellevue Oval.