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Concept plans reveal grand ambition for second stage of No.1 Sportsground upgrade

Concept designs prepared for a proposed upgrade of the grandstand facilities at No.1 Sportsground. City of Newcastle has applied for a State Government grant to complete the project.

A proposed major refurbishment of Newcastle's No.1 Sportsground grandstand will transform the facility into a modern venue able to cater for the needs of local, regional and elite-level sporting fixtures.


City of Newcastle has applied for a $5 million grant from the NSW Government to complete the project, which will increase the footprint of the existing grandstand with a two-storey addition at the rear of the building to provide upgraded amenities for players, officials and spectators.

The construction is the second stage of the overall redevelopment of No.1 Sportsground, which began with a major upgrade of the playing facilities, lighting and seating capacity.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said a refurbished grandstand would be the icing on the cake to attract first class cricket and AFL matches to Newcastle's premier inner-city sportsground.

"With the first stage of the redevelopment approaching its end, City of Newcastle is turning its attention to the design and funding arrangements for the next phase, which will deliver premium-level facilities that will not only benefit local users but allow Newcastle to attract even more major sporting events to the city," Cr Nelmes said.

"City of Newcastle are committed to the future of this facility and the wider National Park recreational precinct.

"We have already invested more than $7 million into the redevelopment of No.1 Sportsground and have recently submitted a $5 million grant application to the Multi-Sport Facility Fund through the NSW Government to complete the works.

"If successful, that funding will allow us to deliver the regional sporting facility our community deserves, which is capable of hosting elite level AFL and cricket matches."

Chair of City of Newcastle’s Infrastructure Advisory Committee Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said the concept designs included a range of benefits for both spectators and players.

"Concept designs prepared for City of Newcastle with input from both Cricket NSW and AFL NSW/ACT illustrate our grand plans for this site, with the ground floor featuring new universal player facilities, dedicated spaces for team doctors and medical staff and upgraded rooms for match officials,” Cr Winney-Baartz said

"The building's new second storey will provide a panoramic view over the sportsground, with floor-to-ceiling windows running the entire length of a multipurpose community function room and team viewing areas, while commercial kitchen facilities will open up a range of opportunities never previously available at this venue.

"Upgraded public toilets will also improve the amenity for spectators, complementing the extended concrete bleacher seating constructed during the first phase of the redevelopment, which has almost doubled the ground’s current seated capacity.” 

While wetter than average La Niña weather conditions and supply chain issues brought about by COVID-19 have extended the stage one construction phase, work is now nearing completion with sporting teams expected to be back on the pitch following a final growing-in period for the turf.

The staged works include increasing the size of the playing field to achieve the minimum standard required for a first grade AFL match, constructing seven new cricket wickets and re-building the entire playing surface with a new sub-soil irrigation and drainage system.

The installation of six new 40 metre light poles has upgraded the lighting to 750 lux, with increased electrical conduit to allow for a further increase in lux level if required for televised night-time fixtures. New sight screens, player dug-out benches and oval fencing will also improve the playing experience.

The project will position the region to attract sporting fixtures such as trial Big Bash League and trial AFL fixtures.

No.1 Sportsground History

No.1 Sportsground sits within the 20-hectare National Park, one of Newcastle’s largest and oldest sportsgrounds and open space reserves. 

National Park Sports Ground, as it was originally known, was designed by city engineer JF Shine in 1921.

Its original two-storey timber grandstand was completed in October 1921 and could accommodate between 200 and 300 people, with dressing rooms, stores and locker rooms in the lower level. 

The sportsground was officially opened on 16 September 1922, with City of Newcastle changing its name two years later to Newcastle Sports Ground. 

In 1989 the Newcastle Earthquake caused major structural damage to the original timber grandstand, which resulted in it being almost completely reconstructed with concrete stands, which remain today. This was the last significant upgrade to take place at the ground.

Concept designs prepared for a proposed upgrade of the grandstand facilities at No.1 Sportsground. City of Newcastle has applied for a State Government grant to complete the project.


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