Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness (SUSF) has officially opened its new A$13m multi-sport TAG Family Foundation Grandstand at the University Oval No. 2 this month.
Designed to accommodate 1,100 spectators in tiered seating, the new venue offers unparalleled views of the revamped playing arena that is now home to the Sydney Uni Football Club (SUFC) and Sydney Uni Soccer Football Club (SUSFC).
Officially renamed as the Sydney University Football Ground, University of Sydney Chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson, stated:
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.
SUSF Executive Director, Rob Smithies, is proud of the latest sporting infrastructure development at the University. He explained:
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.
The new structure is not just a viewing platform, as it strategically incorporates a 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.
SUSF President, Bruce Ross, added:
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 the University’s rugby and football teams, who have struggled to share the over-worked Oval No. 1 with cricket and AFL teams, first emerged shortly in the late 1940s. Until now, only Oval No.1 has offered a suitable grandstand and standard of facilities required by all the different codes.
Together with the A$15m 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.
Commenting on the progress made over recent years, Smithies explained:
I was fortunate enough to become SUSF Executive Director some eigth 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 A$28m 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.
Smithies also 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 A$500,000, Barry Lambert who made a significant donation to obtain naming rights to the indoor cricket nets and the 200+ other contributors who have donated well in excess of A$2.4m.
Smithies also made 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 among the leading educational institutions attracing student-athletes in Australia.