THE MEREWETHER GREENS RUGBY FOUNDATION

(and its role in fundraising for the New Green Room)

The Goal

To establish The Merewether Greens Rugby Foundation as the principal source of funding to support the on and off-field endeavours of Merewether-Carlton Rugby Club., including the Junior Club .

The Foundation will be the main fund-raising arm of our club.

The cornerstones of the Foundation as approved by the Club committee include:

* Community engagement and social inclusion

* Elite performance and sustained onfield success

* Pathway and development programs

* Securing our future

Critical to securing our future is the establishment of a New Green Room complete with gym and associated change rooms and other facilities within the envelope of the existing Clarke Stand on the western side of Townson Oval.

The fulfillment of this goal will be the Foundation’s chief priority for the immediate future.

To realize this major project the Club will look to the Foundation for a significant share of the funding required to establish the New Green Room.

It’s worth noting that about 800 clubs around Australia including a number of Australia’s leading sporting bodies have similar Foundations in place to support their endeavours through tax deductible donating.

Establishment of the Foundation

The Foundation is established under a Trust Deed with a company as trustee. That company is The Merewether Greens Rugby Foundation limited.

The sole purpose of the Foundation is to raise funds for the Club, including the Junior Club. The Club can remove and replace the trustee at any time.

Mike Rabitt has agreed to be the Chair of the trustee company with a Board comprising Steve Reid (as President of the Club), Bill Clifton, Jenny Hawes, Brodie Hussain, David Chapman, John Fordham and John Davis.

The Foundation has entered an agreement with the Australian Sports Foundation and registered a general, so called, “ overarching “ fundraising project with ASF. Beneath that we will register a separate project fro the New Green Room. In the future other special purpose fundraising projects can be registered.

Donations through ASF of cash over $2 are tax deductible. A donation “button” will be included on our website to link with the ASF.

Other donations ( eg materials ) may also be deductible. We will provide some guidance on deductibility through links on our website in due course.

What happened to the proposal to redevelop the existing Green Room ?

This proposal had been around for at least eight years. In early 2015 the Club Committee, tasked a working group to conduct a review and make recommendations with the aim of securing the future of the Club on Townson oval.

The working group reviewed the plans, consulted with EJE Architects and met with Council officers.

Although the plans had been around since about 2008, they had not been approved by Crown Lands or the Council and not lodged for approval. Discussions with Council officers revealed they did not favour any refurbishment or extension of the existing Green Room and stated a preference that we not continue to use the ground floor change room.

What are the problems with the redevelopment of the old Green Room?

The building does not comply with current building regulation in many respectsand has heritage status under the Local Environmental Plan requiring special heritage considerations to any changes.

The proposed redevelopment would have duplicated facilities already existing in the Clarke Stand including change rooms, showers and toilets, kitchen and kiosk, storage and seating areas. Avoiding this duplication saves significant costs in any redevelopment.

The Club would not take on any redevelopment without security of tenure under a long-term lease of the new facilities. Such a lease would require the Club, as lessee, to maintain these improvements. Redeveloping the old Green Room would expose the Club to the long-term obligation to maintain the whole of the building. As a heritage item this involves considerable additional risk and should be avoided.

What did working group review conclude?

The unanimous conclusion was that redevelopment of the Old Green Room was not the best option and should be abandoned.

The group recommended developing the Clarke Stand proposal as the preferred option.

The committee accepted that recommendation unanimously and authorised further development with EJE Architects and lodgement of a DA.

What is involved in the new plan?

The architects’ plans are available on the website and are easy to understand.

Five rows of seating at the rear of the middle bays in the stand are to be demolished to provide a clubroom of 180sm comprising bar, lift access and toilets. The room has full-width sliding glass doors at the front of the room to facilitate viewing.

The ground floor at the rear of the stand provides a gym and fitness area of about 100sm with access to existing showers and toilets when the gym is in use. There is also a dry store and cool store on this level as well as lift access area.

The improvements are constructed under the existing roof which remains ( but which will be refurbished by the Council at their expense).

What is the current status of the new Green Room proposal?

It has the written support of South Leagues and Merewether Cricket Club, Newcastle District Ruby Union, Newcastle Rugby League and Newcastle District Cricket Association as well as the newly arrived community gardeners. The Lord Mayor and local State MP have met with us and expressed support for the project.

A full DA package has been prepared, approved for lodgment by Crown Lands and was lodged for consent with the Council in October 2015.

Development Consent was received on 11 March 2016 on conditions which the Committee consider are acceptable subject to clarification of a few items.

In parallel with assessment of the DA we have been negotiating a lease with the Council. The documents are close to conclusion. They provide for our right to construct the improvements and take a lease for 25 years with a 25-year option. The lease is for the minimum Crown Lease rent of $469pa and obliges the Club to keep its improvements in good repair for the term. The lease requires consent by the Minister for Crown Lands.

Project cost?

Jamie Lind and Brad Drelincourt (working with Northrop Engineers) have come up with a price of $795,000 including GST. This is a commercial, arms-length pricing and includes about $ 80,000 for the lift, an element which could perhaps be staged and installed later, perhaps with government grant funds.

Funding?

The Club has n quarantined previous fund raising efforts for the Green Room to be used for Club strategic projects as opposed to recurrent operational expenditure.

The Committee has decided, whether or not the project proceeds, to establish a Foundation to provide a proper structure for future Club fundraising and which allows deductibility to donors for approved projects.

To construct such a significant project (without substantial government funding) the Club will need to raise approximately $800,000.00. We consider this can be achieved by sourcing funds from the following:

  • Club cash reserves;
  • Souths Rugby League Club;
  • Donors through the foundation;
  • Works In Kind on the Build; and
  • Grants.

 

How will the project be procured ?

This has not been determined yet.

As mentioned above the Council has to do refurbishment works to the roof and steelwork and bring access up to BCA standard. There are proposing to include this work and expenditure in next years budget though this is not finally approved yet.

We agree with Council that the most economic approach is to integrate all works to the extent that is possible. At present we are exploring different integrated procurement options to maximize cost savings while preserving to the opportunity for the Club to take advantage of cost savings through works in kind contributions from our supporters.

We will report further when we have developed the preferred option.

What is the process from here?

The New Green Room project cannot proceed without approval by members in a special general meeting of the necessary expenditure for the works. Getting the timing just right for that meeting is difficult.

We propose to call the meeting when we have a sufficient level of detail to properly inform members of all the material aspects of the project. This would include the terms of lease, construction obligations, repair and maintenance obligations, method of procurement, risks, costs and benefits. In short, the business case for the project. We expect to be in a position to call that meeting in about 6 to 8 weeks.

Any approval of members would be sought on the basis that the project would not proceed before all funds being held and available to complete the works and without borrowing.