THE Wests Group insist they will still spend the $10 million they have committed towards the Knights' Centre of Excellence at Broadmeadow, despite asking tenderers to "sharpen their pencils".
When Wests took over the Knights in November, 2017, a key component of the deal was to fund a Centre of Excellence in conjunction with the state government, which was offering to match any investment on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
A state-of-the-art $20 million facility was agreed upon, of which Wests would pay half for what the group's board of directors regarded as a "legacy project".
At the official sod-turning ceremony for the proposed complex in February last year, Wests/Knights CEO Phil Gardner said: "We'll be investing at least $10 million, and it will probably cost us more than that."
But he told the NewcastleHerald on Thursday that construction tenders had been "millions" outside the proposed budget and hence Wests had requested revised quotes.
"We've always been committed to $20 million," Gardner said. "The $10 million the government is putting in is fantastic, and we'll match that $10 million.
"The original tenders that went out came back way above where we sit. So we've gone back to the tenderers and asked them to re-look at it and bring it back to $20 million.
"As with anything, you don't know what it will cost until you go to market.
"We've asked them to go back and sharpen their pencils. It will still have everything we need, but perhaps not everything on our wish list.
"We're just making sure we cut the cloth to suit."
In plans submitted to City of Newcastle for approval 12 months ago, the centre was to include a large ground-floor gym and "wrestling zone", opening onto a full-size training ground and 40-metre running track.
Other features included a large dining and trophy hall, cafe, outdoor terrace, lap pool, sauna, theatrette, basketball half-court, players' lounge, sleep room, rehabilitation room and sports science space. There were to be separate offices for the club's head coach, assistant coach, doctor and managers of recruitment, welfare, football operations and player development.
Public areas were to include the cafe and a large foyer/merchandise shop.
It was initially expected the main building would be two storeys but it now likely to be on one level.
Gardner said it remained a priority to have facilities for both genders, in anticipation of the Knights eventually fielding a team in the NRL Women's competition, possibly in 2022 or 2023.
The centre was intially supposed to be completed by November this year, but construction has been delayed, firstly when the nearby Westpac Rescue Helicopter took out an injunction in the Land and Environment Court after objecting to certain aspects of the plan, in particular floodlights at the northern end of the training field.
Gardner remains hopeful it can be built by the "first half of next year".