The West

A multi-purpose facility will replace the dilapidated grandstand at Belmont Park in a change of strategy for the billion-dollar development of the Burswood Peninsula.

The initial plan to refurbish the grandstand has been scrapped for a superior facility, capable of accommodating 6000 people and built similar to the multi-million dollar developments at Randwick, Caulfield, Moonee Valley and Flemington.

The multi-storey structure will operate 18 hours a day, seven days a week and boast restaurants, lounges, cafes, a gym and an 800-people function centre.

A screen similar to that in Melbourne's Federation Square, will be installed to beam world-class sporting events to the course, with a long-term plan for reversible lighting to be established on the grass circuit, for night racing and non-racing events to be held on the infield.

The entertainment facility is expected to cater for a population of 8000 from the high and medium-residential developments at the course and 12,000 people from the developments across the road at Burswood.

Perth Racing chairman Ted van Heemst said the construction would cause only minor disruption to the Belmont winter program next year.

"The new build is the much more efficient and by far the most cost-effective way to move forward," van Heemst said.

"Most of the cost will be borne by the developer (Golden River Developments), with the gymnasium and function centre to now be part of the grandstand.

"The health and sports club will be fully funded by GRD and operated by the club and will become the property of PR.

"There will be a host of other activities happening at the location. We are currently talking to the polo people about relocating their headquarters to Belmont Park.

"Our non race-day projects are really starting to grow legs and with the new stand, we have a real focus to generate much more revenue.

"The business model we plan to crank up will see revenue grow into the millions of dollars from non-racing enterprises."

Van Heemst said demolition work should begin at the end of this year's Belmont season. He said some midweek meetings would be transferred but Saturday racing should be unaffected.

"We see it taking one racing season to complete and don't see it being any more disruptive than when we developed the grass track at Ascot in 2005."

The horse stalls will be shifted to be within 15m of the stand.

There is also provision for PR to shift its headquarters from Ascot to Belmont and sell off its current office land.

The plan follows a year of negotiations between PR and GRD.

Van Heemst said it was too early to give construction costs, but he hoped an artist's impression of the facility would be available before PR holds a forum for members to ask questions about the project at Belmont on May 3.

"Our non race-day projects are really starting to grow legs … generate much more revenue.""Perth Racing chairman *Ted van Heemst *

The West Australian

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