Glen Innes' most popular female sport will enjoy a new $5.5 million facility.
Today the Federal government announced it would fund the last $1.2m chunk of the Regional Netball facility, which will replace the existing outdoor courts at the corner of West Avenue and Herbert Street.
The facility will also be used for several other sports, as a 'multisport regional facility' used for about seven sports, but will be predominantly used for netball.
The Glen Innes Severn Council will actually construct the building, which was designed with the aid of Melbourne-based consultant Richard Simon. It is expected to open in July 2021.
Last year the state government tipped in $4.2 million into the scheme.
It will feature two indoor courts, proper toilets and power; the club currently has none of that, playing on exposed outdoor fields in all seasons.
Coaching co-ordinator Julie Fuller said it will be a huge boost to a sport that already boasts around 150 participants, making it one of the biggest in town.
"We're running out of a shipping container, we have no electricity, we have no water," she said.
"You can't attract people to come and play. They want to go to somewhere heaps better. And yet we produce really good Netball players."
Glen Innes has produced players like Kirstie Fuller, a NSW U17 assistant coach, Gunnedah's Eliza Perkins, recently selected for the NSW Regional Talent squad and playing for the Giants and up-and-comers Emily Burton and Liz Chard to name a few. They've even won state carnivals.
They won't be without a home in the meantime; they will be playing on new outdoor courts.
But it's amazing news to get in Glen Innes Netball's 50th anniversary. Julie Fuller said she was originally very skeptical of the proposal actually becoming reality.
"That's my big dream, was this, but I never envisioned that it would be anything like this."
She said it would give Glen Innes the best facility in New England, second only to Tamworth in the region.
Council General Manager Hein Basson said the new centre would allow the shire to hold regional sporting events and tournaments on a regular basis, driving visitor traffic.
"I can see (Glen Innes netball) going from strength to strength," he said.
He said part of the story was "absolutely" a perceived gender imbalance in Glen Innes sporting facility quality.
"To their credit with their not-so-good facilities, they have already built a very, very solid sporting ethos and group in Glen Innes and because of that we were able to argue successfully for a regional centre."
He said council will offer a 10% weighting for local tenders, which is the most they're permitted to offer.
Ms Basson said the building could also be used by young people and a future PCYC, as well as sports like basketball.
Barnaby Joyce, the Member for New England, traveled to Glen Innes yesterday very shortly before the announcement was made official (and was embargoed until 11 today). He said the funding was close at that time.
"I'm very confident, but not to the extent that I'm going to announce it," he said.
"I know how politics works, I've been around it for 15 years now. One golden rule: do not announce things which you have not received the paperwork for."
Mr Joyce pointed out that he has four daughters and all of them play representative netball.