With the turn of a sod today, work is now underway on a project to create one of regional Australia’s leading sports arenas.

The symbolic start to the Lavington Sports Ground redevelopment is the first step in a $9m plan to build new multi-purpose playing field, cricket nets, a major grandstand extension to the existing oval and other new amenities.

Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash said the redevelopment project will encourage greater sports participation and healthy lifestyles in the region.

“Albury-Wodonga is a major regional centre with a rich sporting history, and the Coalition Government is investing in the next generation of sports men and women.”

“I aim to build the kinds of communities our children and grandchildren either want to grow up in or come back to, and great sporting facilities are a big part of that,” Minister Nash said.

Local MP Sussan Ley said the funding support recognises and helps maintain Albury-Wodonga’s reputation as regional Australia’s sporting capital.

“Lavington oval has played a key part in this, but the complex also needs this further investment and development to grow the story”.

“As the major sports facility between Canberra and Melbourne, this redevelopment will help us host more carnivals and events, attracting more players and greater sports tourism opportunities to our region,” Ms Ley said.

AlburyCity Mayor Kevin Mack said the start of work was a pivotal moment.

‘When this first stage is completed we’ll be in premier position to host important regional and state sporting events, including high-level junior carnivals,’ he said.

‘By encouraging more families to visit, our shops, restaurants and accommodation services will benefit, which is great news for the entire community.’

This project is jointly funded by the Coalition Government ($4,025,560), the Albury City Council ($4,005,560), AFL NSW/ACT ($250,000), and the Lavington Panthers Football Netball Club ($20,000).

Works are expected to be complete by March 2019.