AIS Arena on the radar as Phillip Oval set for $6m revamp

5 December 2016

The ACT government will seek clarification from the Australian government about the future of the AIS Arena as officials weigh up turning the venue into a specialised volleyball stadium.

The Australian Sports Commission board is expected to meet in December to decide whether to transform Canberra's biggest indoor venue into a volleyball high-performance centre.

The facility overhaul would leave Canberra without a large basketball, netball, concert, exhibition and gala venue and increase the need for a new convention centre and rectangular stadium in Civic.

ACT Sports Minister Yvette Berry hopes to use a national meeting of sport ministers to get more information about the commission's plans for the arena.

"We'll have conversations with the federal government and in a couple of weeks sporting ministers from across the country will be meeting," Berry said."It's something that I will be raising with [Australian Sports Minister] Sussan Ley.

"[If the volleyball plan goes ahead] it will leave a gap in our market for sport and for entertainment venues. We'll have to consider all of that, but it's a bit hypothetical at the moment. There's no meat in the sandwich yet.

"We'll have a conversation with the sports commission and the federal government about the future [of the AIS Arena] and what role the ACT government can play."

Berry joined Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland and AFL NSW/ACT chief executive Sam Graham on Monday to launch a $6.2 million project at Phillip Oval.

The plan is to revamped the under-utilised ground to become a high-performance base for both cricket and Australian football.

Manuka Oval will still be Canberra's premier round venue, but Phillip Oval will be used for training camps and second-tier national competitions.

It is hoped that it could also be used as a base for a Big Bash League team if Canberra is successful in its bid to be included in the Twenty20 competition.One of the stumbling blocks for Canberra winning a Big Bash licence has been the lack of an indoor training facility at Manuka Oval.The indoor facility could boast state of the art practice wickets to give the capital's cricketers somewhere to train in winter.

"From a cricket perspective, we're very excited about the opportunities this facility is going to create," Sutherland said."Both from elite and high performance viewpoints, to have state of the art facilities at Phillip Oval is something we're looking forward to.

"We've struggled for elite facilities, which include indoor facilities ... it's really important to grow the game."One of the key focus areas for us is outdoor nets and indoor nets as well. Cricketers being cricketers, they tend to be very fussy about those facilities.

"It's a continuation of our faith and confidence of what's happening here [in Canberra]. We've seen quite extraordinary growth and that's a credit to [Cricket ACT]."Cricket ACT and AFL NSW/ACT were kicked out of their Manuka Oval offices two years ago when the venue was revamped. The new Phillip facilities will give both sports a new base.