The Melbourne bayside suburb of Beaumaris grew rapidly in the 1960s as new land was opened up for housing and young families moved in, subsequently creating demand for new sporting clubs for the community. In 1962, the Beaumaris Football Club was established, joining the Beaumaris Tennis Club and the Beaumaris Cricket Club.
The three clubs coexisted on the same council owned reserve for 50 years, but as the population expanded and facilities began to age, the clubs began discussing how they could renew their facilities.
In 2009, all three clubs came together to establish the Beaumaris Sports Club with the objective of building club facilities that would meet their needs. Over the next eight years club members worked to establish a $6 million clubhouse, using innovations such as interest earning debentures from club members to help fund the new facilities.
There was a perception in the community that it was unlikely the clubs could attract government support to redevelop facilities. As sporting facilities aged, the three clubs came to the view that if new sporting facilities were to be built they would have to do it themselves.
The combined clubs have a strong membership base, with Beaumaris Football Club alone having 28 individual teams in local competitions. The membership base gave the Beaumaris Sports Club Committee confidence to develop a business plan that leveraged a variety of funding sources to develop new facilities. These included member and community donations, interest bearing debentures, sponsorship, bank loans and contributions from the Victorian Government, the local council and sporting associations.One initiative was to establish an annual festival, ‘A Day on Oak Street’, to raise funds for the Beaumaris Sports Club. Fundraising for the festival amounted to $34,000 in 2015 and $43,000 in 2016.1
Beaumaris Sports Club used an interest-earning debenture as part of the funding structure. The sports club debentures (unsecured), with a minimum amount of $10,000, are invested in the club for a minimum of 10 years. Interest is accrued from the time of receipt of the contributor funds at 5 per cent fixed per annum, compounding, and payable only at the time of repayment of the contributor funds.2
The club had to deal with a series of challenges at every stage of the project.
The Beaumaris Sports Club quickly appreciated that it could not manage a project of this complexity by only relying on volunteers. They incurred increased staffing costs to ensure the right resources were in place to guarantee project success. This in turn required an increased focus on fundraising and sponsorship.
Long delays were experienced by Beaumaris Sports Club going to tender. One of the implications of the delay was that new disability design requirements came into force, which then required an amendment to the planning permit to modify the design. The club was also required to make a change to its planning permit to accommodate trees that had been planted by the council during the planning process.
According to club officials, ‘the council consists of multiple business units and it was wrong to assume they talked to each other. Dealings with council would have been done differently had we been aware of this. In particular, the dealings with the finance department of council have been challenging’.
The newly established Beaumaris Sports Club needed commercial skills to navigate the development of the club facilities. An early decision was to have the club’s business model developed and verified by an independent external professional services firm.
While member and community support was critical to the development of the club’s new facilities, the length of time involved taken for the project to progress meant some members were unable to fulfil pledges due to changed circumstances. Club officials acknowledge the importance of demonstrating to the local council that the club was fulfilling a community need.
Perhaps the most unexpected outcome from the creation of the Beaumaris Sports Club was the community spirit that resulted. Historically the three sporting codes, tennis, football and cricket, had coexisted without much interaction. The creation of a single club with the united purpose of building new facilities for them all unleashed community cooperation that up until then had no outlet.
The fundraising festival ‘A Day on Oak Street’ is the manifestation of this cooperation. While the festival has been successful in supporting the club’s fundraising activities, it has also become a central activity in the community calendar.
The success of Beaumaris Sports Club debentures has raised attention to a financing structure that was commonly used to develop sporting facilities but which has largely been forgotten over recent years. The success of the debentures is resulting in a discussion in local government about the potential to use this structure as part of strategies to address the deficit in available funding for renewing and developing sporting facilities.
1 Minerals Council of Australia (2017), Review of National Access Regime of the Australian Competition and Consumer Act, Submission to the Productivity Commission (February 2013). Available at: http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/access-regime/submissions/submissions-test/submissioncounter/sub026-access-regime.pdf
2 Australian Competition Tribunal, Applications by Robe River Mining Co Pty Ltd and Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd, (2013) ACompT 2. Available at: http://ncc.gov.au/images/uploads/DERaFoTD-002.pdf
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