Multimillion-dollar grandstand upgrade at Wickham

15 Mar 2023

Construction is set to begin this month on a major redevelopment of the Passmore Oval Wickham grandstand, delivering dedicated female changerooms, improved disability access and new community function areas.

The $2.35 million project is a collaboration between City of Newcastle (CN) and the Hamilton Hawks Rugby Union Club, which successfully applied for $1 million from the NSW Government under the Greater Cities Sport Facility Fund.

It will include a new two-storey building constructed at the back of the existing grandstand, which will deliver accessible sports facilities and viewing for both Passmore Oval and its adjacent Hawkins Oval.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the extension and upgrade of the grandstand will set an inclusive benchmark for Newcastle's sporting facilities.

"City of Newcastle is committed to making our city more liveable and inclusive for all people," Cr Nelmes said.

"This project will deliver dedicated female changerooms to cater for the growing number of women and girls playing rugby union and cricket in Newcastle.

"It will also ensure the spectator facilities meet the needs of all members of our community, with lift access and amenities that will enhance the comfort and experience for people with a disability visiting the Wickham Park sporting complex."

Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said the project aligns with the recommendations in CN's Strategic Sports Plan for the wider Wickham Park precinct and would provide a great outcome for all its user groups including the Hamilton Hawks, Hamilton Wickham District Cricket Club and the Newcastle District Cricket Association.

"We have worked collaboratively with the Hamilton Hawks Rugby Union Club to bring long-held ambitions for the upgrade of this facility to life with a design created by EJE Architecture that will ensure both Passmore and Hawkins Ovals can be enjoyed by everyone in our community," Cr Winney-Baartz said.

Specially designed female dressing rooms for both the home and away teams will be housed on the ground floor of the new building, along with a shared exercise and training area and storage rooms.

Amenities for people with a disability will be included on both levels of the building, while a lift will ensure the facility is fully accessible. The upper level will feature a community room, a kitchen area for food and drinks service and a balcony overlooking Hawkins Oval.

The existing grandstand will also include a new community meeting room and viewing space for wheelchair users overlooking Passmore Oval.

Hamilton Rugby Club President Lesa Mason said the improvements and additions at Passmore Oval would be a massive boost for the Club and the community, but especially for the booming number of young female sports participants.

“The purpose-built female dressing rooms will see the end of our junior and senior women’s teams getting changed in cars or waiting for 'their turn' in the men’s dressing rooms,” Ms Mason said.

“Participation rates in women’s 7s Rugby and the 15-a-side game are booming so the timing of the development is excellent, with Passmore Oval in the heart of the rapidly expanding Wickham/West End growth corridor and female player registrations at the Hamilton Hawks reflecting the rapid growth nationally.

"Members of the public with mobility issues will also now be catered for with accessible toilet facilities both on the ground floor and new viewing spaces and further facilities on the upper level, accessible by lift.

"We are very grateful to City of Newcastle for its advice and support in seeing the development come to fruition.”