SPLASH’S net gain

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SPLASH’S net gain

Out of cash: Wally Fleming and his son Russell believe the extra fee imposed by council is turning people away from the sport.

By Matt Dunn

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has rejected the pleas of local basketballers, who say a $2 entry fee at SPLASH Leongatha is crippling the sport.
The extra cost is imposed on Leongatha Basketball Association members, in addition to court hire fees, making the total cost of a game $8 per player.
The association, which is desperate for new players, has been losing about $5000 a year over the past four years. It moved from its old home when council sold the basketball courts that back onto Sparrow Lane as part of the Stadium 4 cinema complex.
“What we object to now is, we’re paying $38 or $39 per hour for the court. We have to charge our players $6 a game to play to cover our costs and umpires and all that sort of stuff. And then they have to pay $2, so that makes it $8,” umpires advisor John Schelling said.
“You can go and have a swim all day for four bucks. We’ve got to pay eight bucks for 40 minutes of basketball. If you’ve got three kids, each one has to pay that $8 fee.
“We’re struggling to keep the women’s competition going, we’re struggling with a lot of the girls. That’s because they can go and play netball elsewhere for $5. We’re bringing the people to the stadium and then we’ve got to fleece them.”
The association was told by council it would have to raise extra money to offset the $2 charge. Mr Schelling believes the association is already putting a great deal of money through the canteen.
He said that council justified the extra cost because the association was using the facility on the busiest nights of the week – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Association president Wally Fleming believes that those nights were busy only because basketballers were using the courts.
“If we weren’t there, there would be no one else using it,” he said.
“The court hire we’re paying per hour is pretty steep as it is, whereas if we went somewhere like Mary MacKillop we’d be paying a lot less. We don’t really want to move, because we don’t not want to support the leisure centre in the town.”
The association has tried twice to have the fee plan quashed, once before it was imposed and once since, but the council has rejected its arguments.
The association has plans to try its luck again soon.
“As a basketball association we’ve been running at a loss of $5000 a year for the past three or four years. We can’t afford to lift our fees anymore, because then people won’t play,” Mr Fleming said.
“It’s actually picked up a bit more in the past two seasons, but we had quite a substantial drop off before that. We went to the YMCA management about it. People say it’s just a trend with people dropping off, it’s happening everywhere, but certainly people aren’t going to play if they have to pay an extra $2 on top of the other costs.”
Mr Fleming said the association was always willing to help out those who could not
afford to pay.
“If there was someone financially struggling, we would certainly come to some sort of arrangement and help out. It seems that people dropped off around the time the fee came in,” he said.
South Gippsland Shire Council mayor Jim Fawcett acknowledged the fee had been a “long standing point of annoyance” to the basketballers.
“Council, in its annual fees and charges, agreed that the fee would stay. I’m not aware that the association has another offer on the table. I know it’s an issue for the association,” Mr Fawcett said.
“The association is quite welcome to make a presentation on the matter to the SPLASH advisory committee and council about it. It’s not just about basketball, there’s a whole range of users of the facility. We can’t treat basketball in isolation from the rest of the users, when it comes to court hire.
“That’s always been the issue when we’ve considered it. We’ve had to consider the implications for the whole complex and its budget.”

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=333

Posted by Chris Brown on Sep 29 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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