Vital stadium bounces back
FINALLY, the timber floors of the once ruined Ipswich Basketball Stadium were filled with the screeches of kids shoes enjoying the game they love.
The stadium is the epicentre for basketball west of Brisbane and is the only site with grandstand seating in the region.
It was destroyed by January’s flood disaster and the Ipswich Force basketball club, which owns the stadium, feared it may be out of action for the entire year.
But the club has secured funding to repair the $600,000 worth of damage.
The good news continues, with two of the stadium’s four courts re-opened for training and matches last week.
Ipswich Force operations manager Patrick Ralph hoped the main court, where Queensland Basketball League fixtures are normally played, would be ready by the start of April.
“It was fantastic just to see the stadium being used again and the kids back out playing the game of basketball,” Ralph said.
“Things are getting back to normal, slowly, but there’s a lot of work to be done still.
“Things were pretty dire but it seems like the stadium will be back to how it was before the flood much sooner than we thought.
“We have been helped out by the community so much which was great to see.”
When the Bremer River broke its banks on January 12, a five metre-high wall of water trashed the stadium between Booval and Bundamba.
The floor of their main court, which hosts hundreds of matches throughout the year, had to be completely gutted while the canteen, seating and courts two, three and four were also ruined.
As the Ipswich Force are a non-profit organisation that does not pay tax, they were not eligible for many government grants.
And like most of flood-affected Ipswich, they had no insurance cover for flooding.
But they have managed to secure funds from the government to help cover construction costs while the game’s governing body in the state, Basketball Queensland, was also poised to come to the rescue with an injection of monetary support.
“Its a big relief and we are thankful for the help from the government and Basketball Queensland,” Ralph said.
If all goes to plan, the stadium’s main court will be ready to host the Queensland Under 14 championships in April.
“We need that to be opened by then because the championships will see 1000 people in and out of the stadium every day for the week,” Ralph said.
“That will be a massive event for us if we are ready in time.”
The community rescue operation for the stadium was incredible.
Thirty tradesmen from rural New South Wales slept at the stadium over a weekend and helped rebuild the canteen.
Hundreds of Force members helped clean up in the flood’s aftermath.