Bunbury Mayor David Smith’s embarrassment at the poor state of Hands Oval reached its peak three years ago but he is now relieved that improvements at the venue have begun.
While attending the 2009 South West Football League grand final, which was marred by a sloppy quagmire on the ground, Mr Smith said there was a lot of criticism from members of the crowd.
“I must confess as mayor I was a bit embarrassed,” Mr Smith said.
“I made a point of walking around the oval twice and I copped a lot of flack from spectators.
“The redevelopment is a project that has been around for a long time and it’s just great to get it under way.”
As part of the upgrades, which began earlier this month, the playing surface, reticulation and boundary fence will be replaced.
Improved disabled access and new seating are also in the pipeline as part of phase one of the blueprint.
Mr Smith said the venue had a special place in his heart.
“Hands Oval to me has always been very important. As a young athlete I just wanted to train there and do hundreds of laps,” Mr Smith said.
Upgrades to the lighting towers are, so far, the only part of the works to be delayed.
All work should be finished in March before the start of the South West Football League season, which historically plays its first round in late April.
SWFL general manager John Vidos described the works as much needed.
“It’s been decades in the making. Hands Oval is the premier sporting ground in Bunbury and it urgently needed a facelift,” Mr Vidos said.
“The surface was past its use-by date some time ago and it’s good to see redevelopment happening now.”