ONGOING discussions between Football Mid North Coast and the Newcastle Jets highlights the challenges Port Macquarie faces without a regularly available top-class sporting facility.
Both sporting organisations are working hard behind the scenes to find a suitable date for the club to again come to town before the start of their 2019-2020 Hyundai A-League campaign.
Inadequate lighting at Regional Stadium almost forced last year's fixture to be cancelled, which meant a day-time fixture sometime between July and September this year was agreed as being the most suitable time.
However, with Regional Stadium believed to be booked out with rugby league until the end of September, it appears likely the Jets visit will either head to Forster or not happen at all.
FMNC chairman Mike Parsons stressed the mooted facility at Thrumster was still bubbling along in the background.
But that won't help get the Jets across the line in the near future.
"There's a development application that's currently in with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and that's going through due process, however they don't really have the finances to fulfil the project for the next 10-20 years," Parsons said.
"So what we need to do is bring the whole project forward as expeditiously as possible.
"We plan to continue to seek grant funding and any other additional funding that may be forthcoming from state or federal government or any other benefactor.
"There are a lot of benefits and it's not just about the Jets, but the Jets highlight the issues that we have including inadequate lighting to stage FFA qualified games."
There are a lot of benefits and it's not just about the Jets, but the Jets highlight the issues that we have including inadequate lighting to stage FFA qualified games.- FMNC chairman Mike Parsons
Originally, FMNC had planned to apply for grants to acquire all the funding for Thrumster "up front" although Parsons admitted they had since returned to the drawing board.
"We were best advised by a number of different departments that perhaps we take bite sized chunks out of the proposal and put it into three, four or five stages," he said.
"That way, we're applying for two or three million dollars at a time and we'd be able to get the fields and have them playable.
"Then we could stage lighting and training facilities and then administration offices and grandstands at a later date."
Meetings with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and newly elected Cowper MP Pat Conaghan have all been pencilled in.
"With all local government, it's about funding so we have a planned meeting we're organising so that we can see if there is perhaps other state and federal funding available," Parsons said.
Parsons reiterated the plan for the Thrumster facility was not a pipedream and work continued to be done in the background.
These things have to take a certain course and we're paddling the canoe as hard as we can and we'll continue to do so until we can get an outboard motor on the back of it.- FMNC chairman Mike Parsons
"I can promise the followers and supporters of our game and people living in the area that it's not a pipedream," he said.
"It's something we believe we can drive through to a reality and a finality.
"These things have to take a certain course and we're paddling the canoe as hard as we can and we'll continue to do so until we can get an outboard motor on the back of it."
The number one priority in the meantime was securing enough funding to start on a high-quality playing surface.
"If we can lay down a proper surface to play on, that's the number one priority and that has to be the most important thing," Parsons said.
"That field will be of a high standard and be able to be played on over the course of the next 40-50 years.
"I've got no problem with rugby league, rugby union, hockey, swimming or basketball having their facilities, but all we want is our fair share."
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