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Byron Shire
May 26, 2024

Bangalow Bowling Club mulls over its future

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The Bangalow Bowlo needs the community to get on board if it isn’t going to be lost as a community asset.

Ten years ago, the Bangalow Bowling Club was saved from administration by the local community.

Now, the club may be amalgamating with a large Brisbane-based group of clubs, which would see the facility and its day-to-day running taken out of community hands.

In a move that was initiated by the board of the Bowlo itself in a bid to ensure the venue’s long-term viability, there are plans for the club to amalgamate with Norths Collective.

This is an incorporated entity, which operates five clubs across the east coast, including the large Seagulls Club in Tweed Heads West.

It boasts $127 million in assets and $58 million in total annual sales, but falls into the category of a not-for-profit under the State’s legislation governing licensed clubs.

The corporation made its pitch to Bowlo members via a number of meetings in April, and they are expected to vote on the proposed amalgamation in the coming weeks.

‘It is evident to me, after having served five years as a director of the club, that we need to explore what options are available to us in order to secure a sustainable future,’ Club President, Rowan Keast, said during an address to members.

‘This may require us to consider the option of partnering with a group that brings these essential planning and governance skills, significant and much needed financial capital for the building and its ongoing maintenance, and depth of industry knowledge to help successfully navigate through the twists and turns of running a complex business in the modern era.’

Mr Keast said that the Club had been trading well but that it had been ‘treading water financially since the start of the pandemic’.

‘We are not moving to the next level as we’d hoped and planned for in our strategic vision,’ he said.

‘We lack capital to implement our strategic vision, and even “when” or “if” we are in the position to consider further capital raising in the future, how much will be enough? And on what terms can we genuinely afford to take on further debt risk as a small club, and who will be the volunteer board of directors that are prepared to sign off on it?’

The Bangalow Bowlo needs community members to join the board.

Board members hard to find

Mr Keast said finding community members to take up board positions had been an issue.

‘In the five years I have been on this board, I have made numerous attempts to encourage newcomers to join the board from a broad cross section of skill sets, and the most common response I get unfortunately is “I’d really love to help, but I just can’t commit the time”.’

Mr Keast said that the board’s only interest was the future success and sustainability of the club.

He and the other board members acknowledged that a disadvantage of the proposal would be that the Bowlo would be entirely amalgamated into the new group.

This would mean that the community would lose executive control and ownership of all assets, including all buildings and the land they stand on.

It would also mean that, after a ten-year period, the Norths Collective would technically be free to do whatever it wanted with the business and assets.

While this could potentially include private development, the board said such an outcome was unlikely, because of the community zoning which currently applies to the site.

However, the board also emphasised that Norths Collective had indicated a desire to invest heavily in the venue and to enhance the club’s sponsorship of local sports clubs.

Norths Collective also indicated in the pitch that it intended to refurbish the clubhouse, promising that this would be done in close consultation with members and the broader community.

One possible addition that raised concern among some members was the inclusion of a TAB Sports bar area.

In the Frequently Asked Questions section of its online pitch to Bowlo members, Norths Collective suggested that there might be an increase in the number of poker machines as part of the amalgamation, but was vague about exactly how many more there might be.

For more info, visit: www.bangalowbowlo.com.au.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Just say No. More pokies. A tab bar. Not hard to work out what happens next. I’d rather have a meal and drink in a run down shed owned by the community than a pimped up gambling den that fucks the community. More dollars donated to local sporting clubs, dollars lost from local mums and dad’s. All that glitters isn’t gold. . Stay local and stay true.

  2. I’m not a local but I remember Hurstville Bowling Club was in a similar predicament they were assisted by a local bigger club ….., Hurstville Bowlo is no more …. Where the clubs greens and clubhouse stood are now apartment s ……

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