EXCLUSIVE: $13M cash injection for iconic Ipswich club
IPSWICH Turf Club is set to receive a massive boost ahead of Cup day when Racing Minister Grace Grace today announces $13 million in funding for a massive redevelopment of the club.
Ms Grace will travel to Ipswich to officially announce what is music to the ears of the club and long suffering punters who have made do with second rate facilities for decades.
The grant, which will come from the Racing Queensland infrastructure fund, will enable the financing of a major new state-of-the-art two-storey building, which will house new jockeys and stewards rooms on the ground floor and a member's lounge and function centre above.
A new kitchen and public bar will also be constructed on the ground floor.
The funding, which will also be used for a major track upgrade, includes other significant features which will be detailed by Ms Grace today.
Ms Grace said the Ipswich Turf Club was "the heart and soul of the local community" and had long played a vital role in the state's racing industry.
"The club hasn't seen any new infrastructure for 26 years, so these funds are clearly long overdue," she said.
"This redevelopment will help to secure the long- term future of the club, while supporting up to 40 jobs during construction.''
A total of $10 million will be put towards new infrastructure and upgrades, while an additional $3 million will go a long way to securing the club's financial viability.
"The redevelopment blueprint will also open up a host of commercial development opportunities to the club," Ms Grace said.
"There's the potential for a subdivision project on Brisbane Road which will generate non-racing revenue to the club as a master-planned commercial and retail precinct.
"This could include a supermarket, fuel, fast-food, automotive sales retailer or motel, pending state government and council approval for a change in land use.
"This potential to develop non-racing income streams are absolutely crucial to the long-term future of Ipswich Turf Club."
Ipswich Turf Club chairman Wayne Patch said the funding news was simply "a fantastic thing for the Ipswich community".
"It has been a decade of hard work and disappointments, or in racing terms false starts, but we are finally over the line," he said.
"I understand that the Treasurer has signed off on it and the Racing Minister will be making the announcement.
"For racegoers it will be a whole new world and the redevelopment will bring us into the new age.
"We'll have new state-of-the-art members' facilities and world class punting facilities with our arrangement we have with UBet.
"They'll be able to view the races from their seats rather than have to go out to the grandstand on quiet days.
"We've had issues with water leaks in the jockeys' rooms and members area over a number of years but that will all be repaired.
"The great beauty of the funding is that it will allow us to progress to the next stage with the commercial development on Brisbane Rd to make the club sustainable forever."
The timing of the news, two weeks before the Ipswich Cup, is a massive boost.
Mr Patch conceded the club had become "a one-trick pony" in certain respects with its reliance on the Ipswich Cup, which he said had now become an Australian icon on the racing calendar.
The club now has other revenue streams.
The redevelopment works will start at the end of this year.
The proposed relocation of the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club to the interior of the track is not part of the project to be announced today.
But the QT understands the state government has plans to build replacement tracks in south-east Queensland, with the western corridor touted as a strong option.