By NOEL MURPHY
A CATS push for City Hall to stump up $6 million toward the next Simonds Stadium upgrade has been greeted with public dismay.
With crowds around three-quarters capacity at best after more than $100 million has been spent on the ground and with another $140 million to go, ratepayers are questioning the value of the investment.
The stadium’s capacity was 33,500 last year but the biggest crowd was 27,402 amid a 7.5 per cent fall in home-game attendances.
Now the club wants to spend another $90 million on the next upgrade and another $50 million after that.
The club has a $70 million cash splash from the new Andrews State Government toward the $90 million fourth stage, along with $5 million from the previous Napthine government.
Now the club has approached City Hall for a further $6 million from ratepayers.
Independent online readers responded sharply yesterday.
Piero Severino suggested on the Independent’s Facebook page that the Cats should instead “ask the AFL for the money”.
“Ratepayers’ money is for fixing roads, footpath and so on,” he said.
Wendy Frampton wondered “how many schools could be rebuilt for that kind of money”.
“Moriac PS was promised a rebuild for $4 million but somehow football is more important than our schools.”
Donna McCluskey Witney thought the funding bid “stinks“.
“Spend it on something that will benefit the taxpayers, like healthcare or roads or education. No point in putting a shiny new jewel in the crown if the people are not going to use what is already there.”
Sheila Middleton wanted the money instead spent on Geelong’s public hospital, “especially the emergency department so sick people do not have to wait hours to be seen”.
“ I was sent there by my doctor to have a blood test, ECG and chest X-ray, was in the emergency department from 11am to 6.30 pm.”
Kerry McKenzie posted “No!“.
“We have schools desperately needing upgrades and elderly losing vital funding.”
Tracy Treagus Perkins also wanted the money spent “where it is needed, not waste(d) it on something that is hardly used – get the priorities right”.
Chris Middleton said the Cats might be able to rebuild attendances if “it didn’t cost and arm and leg to get in to see one match, and buying food there didn’t mean selling a kidney or two“.
Chris Airey questioned the value of the investment.
“Really, more money for something locals only have to pay for and not get to use?”
Denise Airey raised the cancelling of an AUSKICK clinic on the stadium’s surface last year.
“No wonder there will be a backlash to this funding request. We follow the Cats but this is hard to swallow.”