TAREE Leagues and Sports Club has applied for a $1.5 million State government grant to upgrade facilities at the Jack Neal Oval at Chatham.
If successful a stand capable of seating 600 spectators will be built along with new dressing sheds and a canteen area. The club has also lodged a development application with Greater Taree City Council for the work.
"The stand will cost $1.3 million,'' leagues club secretary manager David Brannn said.
"The rest will be used for new lighting and fencing.''
The covered area at the ground along with the dressing shed/canteen would be demolished as part of the work.
If successful Mr Brannn said the club would look to attract major sport fixtures to Taree. This would include NRL, A-League Super 15 rugby trials along with representative matches including the City-Country Place of Origin league encounter. Representative touch matches could also be played there.
"It would be a great thing for the town,'' Mr Brann said.
Other than a new bar area built last year with the cooperation of Tooheys Brewery, no major work has been carried out at the Neal Oval since the Harold Eggins stand was built in 1992. This followed a donation by Mr Eggins. The dressing sheds haven't changed since the ground was opened in the mid-1960s.
Lighting was installed at the ground in 1985 and funded by the club and Taree Touch Association. However, only one of the 16 lights now works.
The club's board of directors has spoken to member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead about the project.
"He's right behind it and has already contacted the various government departments on our behalf,'' Mr Brann said.
Earlier this year Mr Bromhead and the then State Minister for Sport and Recreation, Gabrielle Upton, inspected the Neal Oval.
Mr Bromhead said the minister was amazed that the ground is Taree's premier sporting field given the inadequate facilities there.
"The field's surface, which is maintained by the leagues club, is one of the best on the coast,'' Mr Bromhead told the Times in February.
"If we can improve the facilities there's no reason why we couldn't get an NRL trial there. The Waratahs and A-League clubs could also be interested in playing trials there.
Taree has never hosted an NRL trial although city teams have played games against local teams in the past - the most recent in 1985 when North Sydney played a Group Three selection.
Mr Brann said he has spoken to Greater Taree City Council and said council supports the project.