Olympic icon may need cash injection to keep its head above water

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Ross Fowler and Jack Hodge. Photo: Melinda Jane

Penrith Whitewater Stadium is rapidly losing its battle to stay open, with funding for marketing and upgrades decreasing over the last financial year.

General Manager Jack Hodge addressed Penrith Council’s Policy Review meeting on Monday to provide an overview of the past year and an insight into next year.

He explained the facility is often caught off guard when it’s particularly colder and when it’s also a lot hotter, both of which have occurred over the last year.

“We have other issues in terms of income and expenses such as low rafting patronage, the cost of electricity, the catchment and water quality management and asset maintenance and renewal,” he said.

“We currently have reasonable patronage, which is great due to the current weather.”

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Councillor Ross Fowler, said if Council wants a better facility, they may need to look at a financial investment.

Penrith Whitewater Stadium is one of the area’s key tourist attractions

“If you look back at history, this is one of the great success stories at Penrith Council,” he said.

“It was the first time in the history of the Olympics that a sporting group had entered into an arrangement to provide a venue to conduct any actual sport – if we hadn’t had Canoe Slalom in 2000, it probably wouldn’t be in the Olympics now.

“It’s important to also recognise that while Council has given a lot of support, we haven’t put in $1 other than the original loan, that was paid back with interest.

“I’d like to congratulate the people who operate and run it, they’ve done a great service for this area.”

The facility’s marketing costs were down 98 per cent over the last year, with councillors questioning how people will know it’s there to use.

“The facility should be pushed as a tourist hub,” Cr Greg Davies said.

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