La Trobe University Hockey Club today announces their commitment to KP Hardiman Reserve as their permanent home ground.
For years the club has faced challenges based out of what many call the worst hockey facilities in Victoria. The current field, infrastructure and clubrooms fail to provide a safe environment for members and visitors, and do not meet the requirements to play competitive levels of hockey.
“Today we announce our vision to fix a long overdue problem, and our five year strategy to make it happen” said President Zac Martin. “We cannot deliver on our purpose of providing fun and inclusive hockey for everyone with our current facilities.”
History of Club Location
Founded in 1967, the club has grown considerably over the past 53 years. Beginning with one team, the club now fields 21 squads across all levels of hockey for nearly 300 members, as well as running clinics for more than 1,000 local school children each year. Initially based on campus at La Trobe University, the club relocated to John Cain Memorial Park before finally settling at KP Hardiman Reserve in the 1990’s. La Trobe University Hockey Club remains the largest sporting club at La Trobe University.
Decades later, the hockey club has pledged to stay at KP Hardiman, investing their time, effort and finances to improve the existing venue.
“The Cauldron, as it’s become known around the club, has become our spiritual home. While it’s completely inadequate in its current state, we’re committed to getting it up to scratch.” said President Zac Martin.
Current Issues with the Existing Facilities
The club’s facilities have been widely recognised as the worst hockey clubrooms and field in Melbourne. The many challenges include:
- Clubrooms located a distance from the playing field across a poorly lit car park.
- Existing clubrooms are not fit for purpose, and not safe for members to use. Of particular concern is our female and junior members who do not have secure places to change and shower before and after games.
- Frequent break-ins resulting in damage to the infrastructure, equipment and loss of stock.
- Limited spectator and visitor viewing facilities, with no dedicated shelter for players and equipment.
- Limited storage.
- No family change area.
- No dedicated canteen infrastructure to allow the club to fundraise through food and beverage sales.
- Inadequate lighting for night hockey, despite the field being used in evenings seven days a week during the winter season.
- No ‘tech bench’, a requirement of the Hockey Victoria Association.
- Playing surface is now four years past its use-by date, drastically increasing the likelihood of injury to players, and limited control of the ball on field.
- Inadequate parking, with players, officials and spectators forced to park along a busy Plenty Road during peak times.
The Short & Long Term Plan
With a commitment to stay at KP Hardiman, the club is working on redevelopment across four timelines:
#1 Immediate Fixes
Working closely with Darebin City Council, a number of immediate problems have been identified and are already being addressed. These are expected to be completed prior to April 2020 when the season begins, and the project is being led by Facilities Coordinator Craig Cameron. This includes:
- Replacing and repairing broken windows and doors.
- Creating additional storage space by renovating the roller door next to the entrance of the clubrooms.
- Repairing hot water service for showers.
- Replacing shower tiles and fixing cracks.
- Fixing broken internal lights.
- Servicing the current heater.
#2 Getting the Rooms up to Scratch
Some of these projects are already underway, with an aim to complete before July 2020. This project is also being led by Facilities Coordinator Craig Cameron.
- Clearing out and opening up the two back rooms to be used as changerooms for Home and Away teams.
- Transforming the front room into a social area.
- Installing cubicles in the showers for each of the changerooms.
- Removing the carpet in social area, addressing cracks in the floor and looking at polishing the existing concrete.
- Repainting all internal brick surfaces.
- Updating audio and visual equipment (thanks to a donation).
- Installing an alarm with active monitoring (grant secured).
- Improving lighting around clubrooms (grant secured).
- Converting the unused external Men’s toilet into a family change room with baby change table.
- Installing new internal and external signage to assist visitors with the above changes.
- Potentially leasing YMCA facilities on the western side of the pitch for additional storage.
The club is working closely with Darebin City Council on the above proposals, and has committed to funding these through a series of grants as well as contributions from the club.
#3 New Field
For the past two years, in partnership with Darebin City Council and La Trobe University, the club has been steering a project to redevelop the existing field. Currently this project is partially funded and is awaiting the outcome of a final grant application. At this stage the club is hopeful for a successful result, and construction would commence in September 2020. This project is currently being led by past President and current Masters Director Tim Lonergan.
The club intends for this work to include:
- A new hybrid surface to replace the current one, which is 15 years old.
- Significant landscaping near Merri Creek to allow the field to move 5 metres further away from Plenty Road.
- New shelters for spectators.
- Two dedicated ‘dugout’ shelters for players and equipment.
- Dedicated ‘tech bench’.
- New fencing.
- Dedicated area for the club to setup a portable canteen.
- Storage facilities.
- Relocated and upgraded lighting.
The club would like to acknowledge the hard work and support of Darebin City Council in the development of this project, as well as the support of La Trobe University who cofunded early plans and supported the project in various budget submissions.
#4 New Clubrooms & Beyond
Long term, the La Trobe University Hockey Club seek to build a new pavillion next to the upgraded field. This project is being led by a Sub Committee which includes Travis Dowling, Michael Wilcox and Warwick Oliver. Our bold ambition is to have this completed ready for the 2025 season.
The vision for the proposed new clubrooms would include:
- A single storey raised pavilion for ground visibility.
- Two women’s changerooms.
- Two men’s changerooms.
- Additional bathrooms for visitors.
- Canteen with internal and external facings.
- Secure storage area.
- Sheltered area in front of club rooms for spectators.
- Bar/kitchen and open plan area for viewing and social functions.
- Balcony area for viewing.
- Synthetic turf warm-up area.
- Additional parking facilities.
- Electronic scoreboard.
- Future-proofing to allow viewing on both sides in preparation for a second ground (by 2030).
To deliver this project, our plan and timeline is:
- Establish New Clubrooms Sub Committee and announce commitment to KP Hardiman Reserve (underway).
- Identify suitable grants to fund the drawing of building plans and development of project budget.
- Identify and source supporting information for grant applications such as letters of support.
- Identify grants and strategic partners which could be leveraged to fund the project.
2021 & 2022
- Apply for the identified grants.
- Explore means of raising supplementary funds from membership base and community.
- Continue to build awareness and remain top of mind, leveraging media opportunities where possible.
2023 & 2024
- Secure funds and commence construction, potentially as a staged development as funding becomes available.
2022 has been identified as a critical year for the initiative as it is a Victorian State Election year, with the Federal Election to closely follow.
The club will continue to work closely with the stakeholders for their ongoing support, and to assist in sourcing the required funding:
- Darebin City Council
- La Trobe University
- Ged Kearney (MP): Federal Labor Member for Cooper
- Colin Brooks (MP): Victorian Member for Bundoora
- Department of Sport and Recreation (Victoria)
- Department of Health – Sport (Federal)
“La Trobe University Hockey Club has faced many challenges in our 53 years of existence. Embracing KP Hardiman as our new home is perhaps our greatest. We face this with our highest ever membership numbers as well as our strongest financial position ever. We are confident that over the next five to ten years we can take KP Hardiman from being one of the worst hockey facilities in Victoria to one of the best.” said President Zac Martin