Knights CEO Phil Gardner believes Newcastle’s $20 million Centre of Excellence will take the club to another level and give the Knights the best opportunity to become an NRL powerhouse in the future.
Plans for the four storey, $20 million Centre, to be built adjacent to McDonald Jones Stadium’s Southern Grandstand, inside the Hunter Sports and Entertainment Precinct at Broadmeadow, were unveiled by NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres on Wednesday.
The facility, expected to be built and operational by early 2020, is being jointly funded by the NSW government and Wests Group, owner of the Knights.
“This state-of-the-art facility will foster rugby league at all levels – from juniors to professionals – with three new training fields and multi-purpose facilities,” Mr Ayres said.
“The new Centre of Excellence will be the first high-performance rugby league training facility between Sydney and the Gold Coast and for the first time ever, players will have a pre-game warm up area.”
Gardner, who is also CEO of Wests Group, believes the facility is a game changer for the Knights.
“We need it,” he said. “To be able to compete at the highest level, we need the Centre of Excellence,” he said.
“It will be a major selling point in our recruitment plans to attract players.
“With playing fields proposed for nearby District Park land, this will enable the Knights to bring their entire operations into one facility.
“It will improve integration outcomes and provide an additional venue for local and regional community needs.
“We are keen to get the work started as soon as possible. Somewhere early 2020 to mid-2020 we expect it will be completed.”
Newcastle is one of five NRL clubs who have been able to tap into and NRL Centre of Excellence fund, created by the NSW government after they made the decision to re-direct funds previously allocated as cash payments for grand finals.
Funding has also been approved for the Bulldogs, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Sydney Roosters and the Cronulla Sharks, in a dollar for dollar match of each club’s contribution.
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