Players and umpires to play on TIO Oval 2 last weekend were the first to use the new changerooms, which Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss officially opened today.
The four new player changerooms and umpire changeroom, as well as a new kiosk/bar, ticket booth and separate rooms for timekeepers and media, are part of the Territory Labor Government’s $3 million investment in facilities at TIO Stadium.
The dual-gender changerooms meet the AFL’s Preferred Facilities Guidelines which outlines best practice in the design of amenities for both male and female users.
The kiosk/bar is due to be functioning by the end of January. Down the track, utilising the ticket booth and a separate entrance, there could be an opportunity to separate TIO Oval 2 from TIO Stadium so that it can run as a standalone home venue, potentially benefiting clubs who don't have home grounds.
AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) also invested $200,000 into the infrastructure project, with the growth of female footy front of mind as numbers have increased by approximately 3 per cent each NTFL season for the past three seasons.
Each year the NTFL, the primary users of TIO Stadium and TIO Oval 2, is expanding. So far in season 2019/20, the League is up 24.3 per cent in registered participants (year to date), and with new divisions introduced to the competition, the upgrade has come at the right time.
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss said with playing footy being a way of life in the Territory, and female participation rates increasing, there was a need to provide welcoming physical environments.
“We have invested over $66.6 million to regenerate the Marrara Sporting Precinct, benefiting thousands of sporting Territorians and creating hundreds of jobs during construction.
“We know how important Australian Football is to Territorians, and we want to support the growing participation rates of women and girls and ensure they have access to high-quality sporting facilities.
“Great facilities can help increase participation in sport, and female-friendly changerooms are the most important addition at any new facility.
“The new facilities at TIO Oval 2 complement a suite of upgrades at the Stadium that are improving the player, umpires' and spectator experience."
AFLNT CEO, Stuart Totham said the new facilities bettered the organisation's and NTFL's offering.
"Over the past couple of years, AFLNT completed an audit of all the grounds and facilities across the Territory that are utilised to play footy and found where the gaps and opportunities are. The upgrades required to TIO Oval 2 formed one component of that audit.
“The support of the Northern Territory Government in completing this project now means that TIO Oval 2 meets the AFL's minimum preferred standards, which puts the needs of players, teams, umpires and fans at the forefront of infrastructure and planning.
"We look forward to seeing the strain on the TIO Stadium facilities lessen while TIO Oval 2 will be abuzz with activity," he said.
Nightcliff Women's Premier League co-captain, Hannah Turnbull was one of the first players to use the new changeroom last weekend and was suitably impressed.
"It's great to see the improvements that have been made to TIO Oval 2 and to know there will now be enough changerooms for all the games and teams that play each weekend.
“It takes the whole experience up a notch, so it's no longer just the 'back oval' at TIO Stadium," she said.
The addition of these facilities will also assist AFLNT in its running of school competitions and carnivals and will boost any future pitches to host national tournaments and events.