UOW and St George Illawarra Dragons unveil plans for Community and High Performance Centre
Training centre to serve community and elite sporting needs
The University of Wollongong (UOW) and the St George Illawarra Dragons have plans to further their long association by establishing a state-of-the-art Community and High-Performance Centre (CHPC) at the University’s Innovation campus.
In early 2021, the St George Illawarra Dragons entered into a Heads of Agreement with UOW with a focus on partnering with the university to deliver integrated sporting, community and education programs in one setting.
After consultation rounds with the university, the Dragons finalised UOW’s Innovation Campus precinct as a suitable and long-term site that meets the Club’s expectations of serving the community. This follows confirmation of the Dragons securing funding from the New South Wales government ahead of the upcoming 2022-23 budget announcement.
St George Illawarra Dragons proposed $50 million project includes multi-purpose spaces for the community, university and Dragons' stakeholders’ use, including two full-sized training fields, amenities for the club's NRL and NRLW endeavours, a community classroom, research and education spaces, lecture theatre, a cutting-edge gym, media studio and aquatic recovery facilities.
The project is expected to create 229 new jobs during construction and support more than 60 new full-time jobs once operational.
The training centre will contribute to a world-class innovation campus and help create a better future for the Dragons, UOW students and the Illawarra community by delivering activated, integrated facilities, partnerships and programs across sport, education, health and wellbeing.
The proposal consists of a premium facility of up to 5,000 m2 and up to three playing fields, including a dedicated community field, as well as improvements to pedestrian and cycle access through the precinct.
The CHPC and surrounding grounds have been designed to help create a better future for St George Illawarra, the University of Wollongong and the club's community by delivering activated, integrated and gender equitable facilities. Architect design firm Populous have been engaged to ensure the 'Connection to Country' principles are core to the facility's design.
UOW Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Innovation, Enterprise and External Relations) Professor Alex Frino said the high-performance training centre will provide exciting new opportunities to build collaborative partnership programs for UOW students and the Illawarra community.
“We are delighted to extend our partnership with St George Illawarra Dragons to help create a better future for the community and our students,” Professor Frino said.
“We very much welcome the NSW Government’s financial support for this project which is critical for the development of the Illawarra and the local communities.
“UOW students will get access to this best in class training facility that will enable knowledge sharing, improved education and better partnership outcomes.
“The commencement of this project will create job opportunities for the local community, creating a vibrant future for UOW students through work experience and internship opportunities.”
St George Illawarra CEO Ryan Webb said: "This is the boldest project the Dragons have ever undertaken, and our vision is to build a centre that delivers tremendous value for both our club and community.”
"With the support of the club's shareholders, this project has progressed over the last year through the design and stakeholder engagement process. The next steps involve community engagement activities which will act as an important component to the project's development application (DA) which we hope to lodge shortly.
"We thank the State Government for seeing the value in what we are working to achieve for our sport and community in helping us make the CHPC a reality."
St George Illawarra chairman Craig Young reaffirmed the Dragons' commitment to the club's regions following the CHPC announcement.
"It will be tremendous to have a state-of-art training and community facility to complement our two traditional home grounds, ensuring we connect in the best possible way with our members, partners, fans and communities throughout our entire catchment," Young said.
"It's a truly exciting time for St George Illawarra and one that is well overdue. Many of our competitors already have a competitive advantage with such a facility already available to them.
"We greatly value our partnership with the University of Wollongong and we look forward to creating opportunities to drive collaboration and support further research and development."