NETBALLERS in Maroondah want their sport to be considered on equal footing alongside soccer and football.
The Melbourne East Netball Association and Victorian Churches Netball Association now use the courts at HE Parker Reserve in Heathmont but want funding for a purpose-built indoor stadium at the site.
The groups estimate the development will cost about $7 million and would like to see it funded within the next five years. There are 10 outdoor courts at the Heathmont site and nine are made out of flexi-pave, which can cause pressure on knees and ankles.
The organisations have discussed the proposal with Deakin Labor MP Mike Symon and deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop, who visited the site last Thursday with Senator Helen Kroger.
MENA president Kylie Spears said it was about time netball facilities got more funding from the three levels of government.
"Netball has the highest participation rate but we don't tend to make as much noise, so we don't get as much funding," Ms Spears said.
She said football and soccer clubs thrived from long games — netball goes for a maximum of an hour — alcohol sales and monetary support from higher sport levels like the AFL.
The organisation's ideal venue would be similar to the Waverley Netball Centre at Jells Park, with a mixture of indoor and outdoor courts. "Out of 14 games last winter, eight were cancelled because the weather was so inclement. It's OK to play during the day in rain, but not at night."
If the stadium was built, the competitions could also be extended to include social and mixed teams. The courts are now only used for games on Wednesday nights and Saturday.
She said the high cost of the project was because the site was next to green wedge land. The limited available space means underground parking might be needed beneath the stadium.