Unley Oval named 2023 Community Football Facility of the Year


The outstanding redevelopment of Unley Oval has been recognised as the 2023 winner of SANFL’s Community Football Facility of the Year Award.

A three-stage project initiated by the Sturt Football Club and the City of Unley, the impressive improvement to the home of the Double Blues is set to benefit male and female players, and supporters, for future generations.

Stage 1 of the redevelopment involved the installation of unisex changerooms, chiefly for Sturt’s SANFLW teams, at the base of the Harry J. McKay Grandstand.

Stage 2, funded by Sturt FC, City of Unley and the Federal Government at a cost of $5.2 million, was centred around the redevelopment of the Jack Oatey Grandstand.

A 320-person function centre, titled the Thomas Room, now sits proudly at the top of the Jack Oatey Grandstand, offering unparalleled views of Unley Oval and the Adelaide Hills while also providing electronic windows, advanced audio-visual capacity and a fully-serviced kitchen and bar.

The Jack Oatey Stand has now also enhanced the spectator experience at Unley Oval with reserved, padded tiered seating and open-air viewing boxes.

At the Stand’s base, a new gymnasium, inclusive changerooms and warm-up area, together with a functional medical facility, lifts the bar for all Double Blues players at training and on match day.

The new function centre – the Thomas Room – at the top of the Jack Oatey Stand at Unley Oval.

“The Unley Oval Grandstand redevelopment is the perfect example of community collaboration, showcasing the partnership between Sturt Football Club and the City of Unley,” Sturt CEO Sue Dewing said.

”Over the past decade, Sturt Football Club, deeply entrenched in the Unley community since 1901, has generously contributed a remarkable $2M towards Unley Oval’s transformation.

”This unprecedented investment not only benefits the club but also enriches the entire community, setting the stage for exciting future projects.

“Sturt Football Club and Unley Oval share a rich history offering one of the most picturesque settings for sport. With these recent upgrades, the location has evolved into not only an iconic destination but a premier club for talented male and female Australian Rules Football players.”

Stage 3 of the project is currently underway as the playing surface undergoes a major rejuvenation, in time for the start of the 2024 Hostplus SANFL League season.

It also includes a significant upgrade, to 150lux LED lighting, in all four light towers which will improve visibility at training, particularly during winter.

The upgraded changerooms at Unley Oval at the base of the Jack Oatey Stand.

City of Unley Mayor Michael Hewitson is delighted with the project outcomes, highlighting what Unley Oval now offers to football and local sporting groups, as well as to the community.

‘This project has been about much more than simply upgrading an ageing arena,” Mr Hewitson said.

”There was a very clear vision about its revitalisation in a staged approach over several years to finally realise what all the partners in this project have achieved. The current upgrade to the playing surface will result in a first-class facility not only for sporting clubs, but also for local schools who hold their athletics carnivals at the Oval.

”It’s a huge win for local sports clubs in programs for male and female participants, and for a range of community users. ”This is now a premium facility that functions well for chief stakeholder Sturt Football Club, and it has also become a place for local businesses and resident groups to meet.

‘‘Congratulations to everyone involved in this landmark project, and to the SANFL for recognising the thought and work that has gone into it. Unley Oval has always been at the heart of this community, and this development ensures that it will remain a vital part of its life for generations to come.”

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