Dragons Community and High Performance Centre update

Dragons Community and High Performance Centre update

Industry-leading facility due to commence construction in the second half of 2023

The St George Illawarra Dragons have officially lodged the development applications (DAs) with Wollongong City Council (WCC) and signed the funding agreement for the club's state-of-the-art Community and High-Performance Centre (CHPC).

The NSW Government will contribute $40 million to the project, which is due to commence construction in the second half of 2023 at the University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus, with an estimated completion date of late 2024.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver an industry-leading facility that will set a new benchmark for rugby league excellence and create significant legacy for our partners and communities.

The CHPC is a critical step for the Dragons' rugby league endeavours on and off the field and has also been designed with the club's catchment area and community front of mind.

Minister for Sport Alister Henskens said the project is expected to create 229 new jobs during construction and support more than 60 new full-time jobs once operational.

“The Illawarra is a traditional rugby league stronghold and this new facility will foster the next generation of talent from across the region,” Mr Henskens said.

“The NSW Government is investing in our communities to deliver the best sporting infrastructure and this facility will provide more opportunities for elite athletes and aspiring professionals to operate at the highest level, both on and off the field.”

The CHPC will provide exciting new opportunities to further the club's collaborative community partnership activities that stretch from the St George region to the Illawarra, South Coast and beyond, building on the 20 different programs and over 114,000 participants currently engaged with St George Illawarra each year.

The CHPC will also act as a catalyst for increased female participation in sport, with an additional 6,000 women playing in the region over the next decade. It also has the potential to increase regular participation in sport in the Illawarra region for over 2,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the next 10 years.

Opportunities for those attending University of Wollongong will be extensive, with student access to the CHPC expected to reach 30-45 hours per week in the name of improved education, research, data sharing and partnership outcomes.

Additionally, football-related placement programs will provide up to 300-plus student hours per week as well as ongoing scholarship, work experience and internship opportunities available to UOW students each year.

UOW Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Innovation, Enterprise and External Relations) was pleased to see the DA process underway.

“This is an exciting announcement for UOW, the Dragons, and the region, as it means we’re one step closer to building a best-in-class Community and High-Performance Centre right here in the Illawarra,” he said.

“At UOW, we’re extremely excited by the research, teaching and community engagement opportunities that this partnership presents, as we welcome the Dragons CHPC to our world-leading Innovation Campus.”

Athletes will benefit from two full-sized fields with floodlights, NRL and NRLW change rooms, a large state-of-the-art gym, a hot-and-cold aquatic recovery centre, physio and strapping room, a lecture theatre and a player lounge area.

The all-encompassing facility will also house club administration and include boardrooms and open-plan office space with meeting rooms, a lunch and dining area with balcony, a studio and media space and a community classroom.

A merchandise zone near the main entry will showcase the team gear and provide a focal point to celebrate the Dragons. It is also a space to share team and club history and information and is a key part of welcoming players, staff and guests to the Dragons.

Two development applications concerning the relocation of existing heritage buildings and the subsequent construction of the CHPC have been lodged with Wollongong City Council.

Documentation will be made available by Council for public viewing in the near future. At that time there will be an opportunity for the community to make submissions in response to the development applications.