The City of Fremantle has started planning for Fremantle Oval without the Dockers after conceding the AFL club’s preferred option was to leave its home of 18 years and move to Cockburn.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt made the concession after the City of Cockburn approved an amended heads of agreement for the development of a multi-use facility in Cockburn Central West on Wednesday night.
Dockers’ president Steve Harris insisted yesterday the consultation process with both the City of Fremantle and the City of Cockburn on their respective proposals was ongoing but Dr Pettitt believed Fremantle Oval was now unlikely to remain the club’s long-term home.
“It’s pretty clear that the preferred option is to go to Cockburn and I’m pragmatic enough to accept that but we are certainly disappointed,” Dr Pettitt said.
“We think we put a really good offer on the table in terms of them having a future in Fremantle so we’re a bit sad that this is the outcome but ultimately we will get on with future planning for that site without the Dockers on it.”
Dr Pettitt said the city was working with University of Notre Dame on a new sports science centre facility on the Stan Reilly site, next to the oval, as well as office and retail space which would extend the cappuccino strip to Fremantle Hospital.
“We are not going to close the door (on the Dockers) but we will be putting considerable energy into other proposals for the site around Fremantle Oval,” he said.
“I understand they (the club) need to go through their processes but we are not going to wait around and not do anything.”
A working group set up by the city to consider an elite training and administration facility had been due to report to council on December 19 but Dr Pettitt said the group would shift its attention to other opportunities.
“We will certainly keep in contact with the club in relation to this but I think it will more be around how that process (with Cockburn) is going and the next stage will be how they exit the current site.”
City of Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett said the heads of agreement amendments would be presented to the Dockers.
“The agreement was a significant decision for the city that could pave the way for a new state-of-the-art integrated aquatic and recreation community facility for the region,” he said.
It is understood Dockers’ chief executive Steve Rosich met City of Fremantle chief executive Graeme Mackenzie yesterday morning and had a long conversation with Dr Pettitt yesterday afternoon.
Mr Harris welcomed the City of Cockburn’s decision but said there were a number of high level issues that still need to be resolved.
“As we mentioned at the Annual Members’ Meeting on 27 November, the timing of a final decision is dependent on other parties that we are still liaising with, including the City of Fremantle and the City of Cockburn,” he said.