Bears Softball Club

Bears for life!

Your chance to have your say and let the interested parties know of your concerns.

Dear {{Formal_Title}},

Re: Enoggera Creek Sport and Recreation Draft Precinct Plans. 

I write to bring your attention to the above draft Brisbane City Council (BCC) plan (draft plans) which falls significantly short of the requirements for the nine (9) softball clubs that constitute the Brisbane Softball Association (BSA).

Unlike most other sports where clubs maintain separate playing fields and facilities, all softball in Brisbane is played at Downey Park. The most recent 

BSA competition saw over 700 registered member/players of all ages and fifty (50) teams.

Softball in Brisbane will not survive if it is moved from its present location at Downey Park, under the current terms of the draft plans. This is simply because the draft plans propose less comparable playing space and less critical infrastructure than currently available at Downey Park, making the sport unviable.

More specifically, my major concerns with the draft plan and the current process are:

1. Lack of Consultation

Brisbane City Council has failed to properly consult with the softball community, including the BSA, on these draft plans.

The BSA was not provided with a copy of the draft plans prior to their release. I understand that there is no correspondence from the BCC seeking formal comment on the draft plans from the BSA, as the association representing softball in Brisbane and as a long-term lessee of Downey Park.

I understand there is no correspondence from BCC formally acknowledging receipt of any comments from the BSA regarding the draft plan, either supporting or objecting to it, prior to its release. This would be the case with proper consultation.

This lack of consultation is evidently clear to all softball members from the design of the plan and the inclusion in the draft plans of the following:

  • shared facilities with baseball when the diamonds for each sport are not compatible,
  • “slow pitch” diamonds which are not used by the BSA or played in Brisbane, and
  • different sized and unsafe, overlapping diamonds.

2. Draft Plan is Unsuitable and Unsafe for Softball

What BCC is proposing under the draft plan is:

  1. Not suitable for softball and does not offer like for like (or parity) with Downey Park:
  • A significant (81.25%) reduction of diamond capacity from sixteen (16) to three (3) safe and playable diamonds making the running of the current Brisbane club and schoolgirl’s QGSSSA competitions untenable;
  • Prevents representative, school, state, national or international tournaments from being hosted in Brisbane;
  • Diamonds designed for “slow pitch” and not “fast pitch” (which is played in Brisbane);
  • No grandstand, international diamond, dugouts or warm up areas comparable with the current Downey Park arrangements;
  • Shared facilities with another summer sport (baseball);
  • No provision for lighting which impacts training and game options;
  • Significantly reduced available car parking and batting cage facilities.
  1. Unsafe for players or the community:
  • Overlapping diamonds which are unsafe;
  • Lights, fencing and netting required to keep players, local residents and park users safe is incompatible with the amenity of the local community and wildlife.
  1. Heritage Listing – Downey Park is Dedicated for Women’s Sport

Downey Park is a Brisbane City Council local heritage-listed site (since 2004) dedicated to the advancement of women’s sport since 1959 and the home of Brisbane Softball since 1965.

Downey Park was the first and only women’s sports reserve in the city, and since the Women’s Amateur Sports Appeal Committee accepted tenancy of Downey Park in 1959, it has played host to many softball State and inter-state Carnivals and Championships and several international competitions.

Downey Park houses Australia’s first international standard diamond was entirely built and funded by volunteer members.

The draft plan moves the Gold Crest Senior Men’s Cricket Club to Downey Park, removing the historical dedication of Downey Park to women’s sport.

  1. Softball and the Olympic Games

Softball is a highly successful Olympic sport that we need to support not destroy. Australia’s Women’s Softball Teams have medalled at every Olympics they have played.

Brisbane is the front-runner to host the Olympics in 2032. A total of 21 of the 33 Australian Softball Olympians have honed their skills at Downey Park. The BSA continues to have the highest percentage of Australian players playing in its summer competition of any national softball competition and is widely acknowledged as Australia’s premier competition.

The Australian Olympic softball team is currently preparing at Downey Park for the Tokyo Games in July 2021. They are, once again, a real Gold medal prospect.

The current plan threatens the existence of the sport in Brisbane and negates any economic benefits that flow from international matches and training camps.

The plan for softball fails to recognise an opportunity to build a high-performance facility, attracting more players and visitors from across Queensland, Australia, and the world.

  1. The Negative Impact on Local Residents

Mitigations for light and noise pollution, pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and the safety of residents have been incorporated into the existing Downey Park design over many years.

The current impact from softball on nearby residents is minimal. The site topography and elevated clubhouse supports functional management and safety, mitigates flooding issues, and residents in Green Terrace are protected from any sporting activity and noise. Any parked or passing cars are also protected from struck balls.

The funds required to relocate softball from Downey Park would far outweigh what it would cost to upgrade the current facilities and allow softball to have a state-of-the-art facility.

BCC should also clarify for the community if it will be receiving revenue from the proposed car parks that it proposes to construct as part of moving women’s softball away from Downey Park.

In closing, the current draft plans and BCC consultation process is simply inadequate. It does not provide softball with like for like amenities and will consequently strangle the sport. Public statements from BCC that the BSA Secretary (who is a female volunteer and one member of the BSA Board), supported this plan alone, without written evidence, are a disgrace.

Brisbane Softball needs to stay put in its historical and spiritual home, to continue to build upon its proud history and contribution to Australia’s medal prospects at future Olympics.

Yours sincerely,