New pavilion like "winning the lotto"

QUEANBEYAN Cricket president Peter Solway doesn't hold back when he describes completion of the Freebody Oval pavilion as "like winning the lotto."

And after 25 years of enduring some of the worst facilities of any first grade club in the Canberra competition, Solway's enthusiasm for the newly-complete $1.3 million project is hard to deny.

"We've gone from having facilities that were substandard, to having a facility that rivals anything in NSW so we couldn't be happier," Solway says.

"Before this," he adds gesturing to the expansive pavilion behind him, "the dressing sheds at Freebody 1 were probably the worst in Canberra I think it's fair to say.

"Umpires and opposition teams didn't want to come here and it wasn't anything about fearing Queanbeyan, it was about the facilities not being up to scratch but that's all changed now."

Ever since making the move to Freebody Oval from Margaret Donoghue a quarter century ago, Queanbeyan's cricketers have drawn the short straw when it comes to sporting amenities. 

While Freebody's two ovals are kept in top notch condition, the club was largely without access to all but the most basic of facilities. 

But for Solway, the club's new pavilion isn't simply about improved facilities for his own beloved Bluebags. 

It's also about improving Queanbeyan's standing as part of the wider Canberra and NSW cricket community.

"For me, the biggest thing is that now when we're hosting teams from Canberra or wherever, we've got a facility that can actually cope with that," Solway said. 

"We've got a facility we can be proud of and that other clubs are going to enjoy making use of as well." 

While the pavilion was officially opened yesterday, it has been largely up and running since the start of the 2012/13 season. 

And Solway said he had already noticed a change in atmosphere about the club over the past few weeks. 

"There's just a different feel about the place now," Solway said. "By the time we get some memorabilia in and some trophies around the place, I'm sure it'll create a different culture and bring a sense of history to the club which we probably haven't had before."

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