Leading National Rugby League club, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, is pressing ahead with plans to transform Brookvale Oval into a sporting and educational centre of excellence, in line with the NSW State Government’s recently-unveiled stadia strategy.  

The famous ground, in the heart of Sydney’s picturesque Northern Beaches, is listed as a tier-two oval in the O’Farrell administration’s strategy.

However, for a long time now, ‘Brookie’ has been far from a ground capable of holding a large crowd in comfort nor a facility providing modern sports and recreation facilities, seven days a week, to its local community. With its ageing stands and lack of capacity, Brookvale is often referred to as a relic from the days of suburban rugby league and not a modern stadium befitting a national rugby league competition. 

Well now it’s time to act.

The Sea Eagles board has formed a special committee to develop a plan, which it will put to the Federal and State Government. The blue print will ensure any redevelopment of the oval is done quickly and in the best interests of the whole community – not just the Sea Eagles.

Wells Haslem is working with the committee to help it bring its ideas and plans together to form an innovative proposal to take to governments and the community. 

The redevelopment concept will involve the establishment of a State Trust, providing it is revenue neutral to the NSW Government.  

The ground will transformed into a sporting and education centre of excellence, housing teaching facilities for use by St Augustine’s College – a secondary Catholic boys’ college across the road – plus training facilities for other sports, including rugby union, soccer and basketball, for other local schools. There will also be swimming facilities, open to the public.

The Sea Eagles will ensure the local Warringah Council supports and approves the plans.

The State Government has told Manly that while there are no government funds earmarked for grounds like Brookvale, it will consider helping suburban venues like Brookvale become centres of excellence. 

Local Liberal State Government members, Brad Hazzard and Mike Baird, will be asked to support the new proposals. They have long been supporters of the Sea Eagles.

The State Government’s funding priorities on the Northern Beaches appear to be restricted somewhat to the construction of the new hospital at Frenchs Forrest. St Augustine’s College has already pledged financial support to help the redevelopment, so they can use the new facilities.  

The park at the northern end of Brookvale Oval will be expanded and remain for public use.  The whole redeveloped Brookvale facility will be available for public use. And while it will continue to be the home ground for the Sea Eagles, other sporting teams such as Manly Rugby (Union) Club will also be able to use the ground for their matches.

Architects are now working on drawings that capture the current structure of the ground and stands and will incorporate the history of the site.  It will not be a high rise re-development. Rather a re-engineering of what is already there, with additions to improve capacity and functionality of the oval, stands and parking.

A meeting was held with the NSW Sports Minister, Graham Annesley, in early January, to outline the broad concept of the proposal and to get the government’s feedback on the proposals.

Once plans and costings are fully developed it will be taken to government at all levels.

Go the Sea Eagles.