Eagles air disappointment as field of dreams comes up short

Ipswich Eagles Australian Rules Football Club president Mick Whiteley.
Ipswich Eagles Australian Rules Football Club president Mick Whiteley. Rob Williams

IPSWICH Eagles president Mick Whiteley is determined to get a standalone Australian Rules venue for his club despite revelations the new Tivoli Sports Complex was designed to junior rather than senior AFL standards.

The highly touted sports complex was originally forecast to have two "full size" AFL ovals. The Eagles were set to move to the new venue before the oversight was revealed.

After an inspection by AFLQ Facilities and Infrastructure manager Jake Hanson, Whiteley and Ipswich City Council officials, it was determined the ground lengths of 140 metres was 20 metres short of AFL senior specifications.

During a recent interview with the QT, AFL Queensland CEO Michael Conlan said he was "disappointed AFLQ didn't have more input" into the development.

Whiteley has continued to work with Hanson and Ipswich Sports House and is hopeful a new development at Eastern Heights may prove the answer.

"Expressions of interest are coming up for the site of the former Bremer State High," Whiteley said. "We looked at the Tivoli complex but it can only offer us a 140-metre field and the AFL standard is 160 metres while Limestone Park where we currently play is 167 metres."

Ipswich City Council Parks Sport and Recreation Committee chairman David Morrison said he would try and meet the needs of the AFL but conceded facilities were usually designed as multi-sport venues.

"We are always happy to sit down with any code to discuss how we can accommodate a facility for them," Morrison said.

"In our standard level-two facilities we design the fields with an AFL-size oval with two rectangular fields across it and the potential for a cricket pitch in the middle. It's about not tying up a prime piece of real estate for just one sport."

Despite this policy, rugby league has a dedicated field at North Ipswich Reserve, cricket has a specialised venue at Ivor Marsden Sportsgrounds at Leichhardt and baseball has diamonds at Tivoli.

The city also has multiple soccer and union fields. At the same time, Ipswich's highest-ranked Aussie Rules club remains without a dedicated ground.

"I know we aren't the top-line sport in Ipswich but I feel we've been ignored to a great extent by the Council," Whiteley said.

"Hopefully that can change now with the help of an energetic leader like Michael Conlan."

Topics:  aussie rules, ipswich eagles, mick whiteley, tivoli sports complex



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