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The struggling Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) today received a $5 million conditional state government grant to help it wipe out crippling debt repayments. The WACA will use the money to meet loan payments on the $13 million ground redevelopment it undertook two years ago to retain international Test status.
Western Australian sports minister Bob Kucera said that the WACA would receive an immediate $2 million cash injection, plus annual funds of up to $600,000 over five years, provided it achieved certain milestones.
Kucera said the government loan would convert to a grant after five years provided that the WACA secured one Test cricket match a year, met its financial arrangements and continued negotiating with the East Perth Redevelopment Authority (EPRA) over the sale of some of its valuable land assets.
"It is absolutely important to keep the WACA viable," Kucera told reporters. "(But) at the end of the day the sport still has to pay for itself and we now have a WACA board in place that is taking a very financially responsible position in partnership with the government. This is not a handout."
Dennis Lillee, former fast-bowling great and newly-installed WACA president, described the funding as "a great start" for the revamped WACA board. "We're confident we can meet the milestones - we know we're on the right track."
Lillee said that with the WACA ground used for only three months of the year, the association was looking at other initiatives for use. They included selling some of its land to the EPRA, opening the facility to the public in winter and hosting state league football matches.
Kucera said that although Perth recently had won the new Australian Super 14 rugby union franchise, it hosted very few international sporting events. He went on to add: "It's important to make sure the WACA is given time to work through some of its current problems."