Earlier this afternoon we received a call from Penrith Council advising that the fields are in a condition that they could not let our event proceed this weekend.
The NSWTAGeneral Manager and Event Manager put the case to them for the need and importance of the event to proceed. We then met with Senior Council at the fields to discuss the conditions and the ramifications.
The fields are definitely wet with a lot of surface water sitting on them currently.
The venue has received a fair amount of rain during the week on the back of a 1 in 20-year flood 4 weeks ago which has hampered the ability for the playing surfaces across the venue to drain. Further rain is predicted tonight and tomorrow.
It is a Councils position that the fields will not be playable at all. They have advised that they also have a community commitment to ensure that the fields, following recent development works and noting the recent flooding, are viable for their local residents and seasonal facility users.
We discussed with them the impacts of the Council’s decisions on our event and community. The discussion was had with them re-looking at the venue tomorrow. Whilst we urged an optimistic view, they advised that in their experience with the venue and with forecasted weather conditions it is highly unlikely their decision would change.
As such we have no alternative but to cancel the event. This is not a decision taken lightly and one in which the NSWTA Board has been briefed on. Given travel requirements for those participants in the extremities of the state, it was felt that given the unlikelihood of Council reversing their position to advise all now of this unfortunate situation.
It is our view that this may give affiliates and participants the best opportunity to recoup some expenses as well as alleviate unnecessary travel.
Unfortunately, we are governed by the Council decision-making protocols. Council indicated that they understand our want and need to get the event played having no alternate venues available to us and while they stated they took no pleasure in their position it is a decision they need to make.
We have previously investigated alternate sites. This has been undertaken for venues with the capacity to take the event, albeit in a changed format. These have existing bookings and therefore are not available to us. Even if available a quick investigation of Councils shows that a number have their facilities closed at this point in time.
Note that the event will not be replayed.
There a number of factors concerning this position that we have taken into account. These relate to venue availability, calendar space and external cost factors on participants, their families, the affiliates as well as the NSWTA.
Further, the clear message from our participants and Affiliates following the 2019 event was that the Finals needed to be completed before the NTL. We are delivering on that feedback. The movement of the event forward has had a knock-on effect with the calendar allowing us to move other events forward into the available timelines. The March/April period is packed with both State and National commitments as well as the Easter break.
While issues also exist in looking to secure a venue that does not have pre-existing bookings. Furthermore, movement of the event would likely also then be impacted by winter sports, a measure that our Affiliates advised us to avoid at all costs.
We would also acknowledge the Penrith Touch Association and the work their President, Glenn Fabian and his hard-working committee have put in preparing for this event especially following the recent impact of the floods on the fields and clubhouse.
Finally, whilst this is a decision beyond our control, we realise there will be disappointment amongst our community.
Rest assured that disappointment is deeply shared by the NSWTA.