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SOUTH Mildura hasn’t had much success on the footy field in recent years, but it had a big win off it this week.

The Bulldogs were successful in their bid to relocate to the new Mildura South Regional Sporting Precinct, once it is completed, beating off a rival bid from Imperials.

Mildura Council made the decision on Wednesday night, citing the stronger community focus in South’s bid as a major reason for it getting over the line.

It’s a good news story for South and council got the decision right.

For starters, the name helps, but South Mildura’s proposal was all about integrating itself into the rapidly growing Mildura South community.

The club already has a strong netball arm and that remained a major focus in its vision, along with plans to link with local schools and build their junior base. The vision is also to expand the sporting club with other codes such as basketball or even cricket.

The club has thought big, talked the talk and now must walk the walk.

With the new complex not expected to be completed before mid-2021, the Bulldogs have time on their side to set plans in motion.

Change is never easy, but South Mildura is excited about the challenge, and that’s a great starting point.

On the other side of the coin, having missed out on the bid, Imperials will remain at City Oval, where they have been for 87 years.

They share the oval with not just Mildura Football Netball Club, but also the Mildura Harness Racing Club, which hosts about 50 meetings per year, the Mildura Show and Mildura East Cricket Club.

It’s a terrible set-up filled with enormous challenges for all user groups.

Mildura FNC was originally set to relocate to the new Mildura South precinct, but the committee last season made the shock decision to pull the pin on a move that had been decades in the planning.

If Mildura had agreed to move, it would have gone some way to solving the problem of too many user groups at City Oval.

But that problem still exists.

The archaic set-up means that the two footy and netball clubs have to alternate training nights. On nights when the trots are on, they have to find another venue.

The bottom line is that with the growth of the clubs over the years, which has included the introduction of netball, City Oval is not big enough for them to co-exist in any sort of comfort.

A solution needs to be found.

One option previously hypothesized in this column was for Imperials to relocate to the growing community of Gol Gol.

Another would be for either Mildura or Imperials to move to Sarah Oval, which will be left vacant once South Mildura relocates to the new precinct.

Sarah Oval has the potential to be a great boutique venue for a club. The netball courts are already good, but investment is needed to upgrade other facilities.

Having been overlooked for the new sporting precinct, Imperials would have a good case to present to council asking for some assistance if they agreed to move to Sarah Oval. The harness racing club may also offer some financial incentive, given how desperate it is to see one of the City Oval clubs relocated.

While on the field it will look like business as usual for the three Mildura-based clubs next year as work on the new precinct progresses, off the field each needs to have eyes on the future.

Now is the time to plan for 2021 and beyond.

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

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