State Bowls Centre

by Team BV

Why do we need a State Bowls Centre?

The State Bowls Centre Feasibility Study confirmed the need, scope, site, and feasibility of a new State Bowls Centre in Victoria, with the project being a partnership between Bowls Victoria (BV) and the Victorian Government.

The previous State facility was at John Cain Memorial Park, Northcote and was established to support hosting of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. This facility is now defunct (for bowls) and is being utilised by cycling and football (soccer). This feasibility has confirmed the scope, site and delivery strategy for the State Bowls Centre whilst identifying issues and opportunities including facility ownership, management and operational arrangements, asset and maintenance responsibilities.

Bowls is a major participation sport in Victoria with no dedicated home base. The 2020 Bowls Victoria Strategic Facilities Plan identified a lack of an administration base for Bowls Victoria together with a fit for purpose centre of excellence that supports Bowls Victoria’s high-performance program, coaching and sports development (education) programs.

The proposed facility will provide a dedicated home for bowls in Victoria, serving as a hub for high performance, coaching, administration, and development, including talent identification and talent development.

The feasibility study has determined:

  • The need for a State Bowls Centre combining the administration and program service delivery requirements
  • A vision and key facility components to achieve the vision
  • Preferred site and location for a State Bowls Centre in Victoria
  • Concept designs and a capital cost estimate
  • Ongoing ownership, management and operational arrangements

In Victoria there are 510 bowls clubs across 16 bowls regions. Based on 2019 census data, nearly 200,000 people played bowls on more than four occasions, along with over 50,000 players competing in Pennant, as well as State representative teams across Open, Disability, Over 60 and Under 18 categories.

Hosting state level events is not a primary objective of the State Bowls Centre. These events will continue to be hosted in regional areas for the following reasons:

  • There is good support from volunteers at regional locations
  • Participants enjoy visiting regional locations where accommodation can be provided
  • Two thirds of clubs are located regionally areas
  • The events bring a tourism benefit to these regional locations
  • Bendigo and Shepparton are central for most Victorian clubs and are considered good regional facilities and event locations.

The recent upgrade of the Broadbeach Bowls Centre will support National Championships.

2020 Bowls Victoria Strategic Facilities Plan  recommended the development of one Centre of Excellence facility for bowls in Victoria. This recommendation is listed as a short-term priority (12 to 36 months). The Plan identified the following suggested regions for the possible location of the facility:

  • Eastern Ranges
  • Metropolitan West
  • Northern Gateway
  • Sandbelt
  • Yarra
  • Peninsula /Casey
High Performance Program underpins Centre of Excellence function of a State Bowls Centre

As well as High Performance (elite), other functions of a State Bowls Centre include training and talent identification, coaching, umpiring and club education. State representative participants would access the high-performance facilities and programs proposed at the State Bowls Centre. These representatives come from across metropolitan and regional Victoria and therefore the location of the State Bowls Centre would ideally need to link to major road arterials and public transport links.

Programming Potential for Grass Roots to Elite Participation

The proposed facility model is to develop the State Bowls Centre in partnership with a local bowls club. This will mean the facility can support both grass root development through to elite participation, whilst delivering a high level of programming, capitalising on club competition and the growing social participation market.

The facility will deliver a place that can provide for the total athlete pathway from social and club level bowler, to the elite level player.

A Sustainable Governance and Management Model is Needed to Deliver a Successful State Bowls Centre.

The proposed co-tenant management model provides for the programming needs of a State Bowls Centre together with local club programming needs, and can deliver flexible scheduling, mixed competition structures, different game formats and support diverse user groups, all key ingredients to a sustainable business model.

Who will benefit?

The facility will provide for the high bowls participation experienced in the selected region and provide for local competition and programming needs of the Club, together with supporting Bowls Victoria’s high-performance program and administration requirements. The facility will be designed to support regional tournaments, and will provide for

  • State representative team participants that would access the high-performance facilities and programs
  • Club participants that would access the club facilities and programs
  • Public groups and school groups will be able to hire the facility weekly.

What is proposed?

The State Bowls Centre will include the key facility components required to deliver the following functions.

Proposed Facility Components

Bowls Coaching / Training Area

  • Undercover bowls facility to enable all weather play/ indoor carpet green
  • Outdoor greens for training and coaching and competition play
  • Spectator amenity includes viewing area over outdoor greens
  • Food and beverage outlets for events and tournaments
  • Storage of testing equipment, bowls and umpire equipment
  • Athletics amenities / change rooms
  • Public amenities (spectators) including accessible toilets.

Gym and Medical Rooms

  • Strength and conditioning gym
  • Medical treatment rooms for athletes
  • Break out recreational areas for athletes and coaches
  • Storage for gym and sport science testing equipment.


  • Office space for Bowls Victoria staff, coaches and volunteers
  • Breakout meeting room spaces for administration staff, coaches and educators including board room
  • Staff amenities
  • Staff room and kitchen facilities
  • Storage for administration and volunteer items.

Community facilities

  • A multi-purpose community training and education room for athletic, community and umpire training
  • Hall of fame museum space to display and celebrate memorabilia
  • Function space and commercial kitchen
  • Merchandise area linked to a foyer
  • Car parking for a minimum of 100 car spaces

Proposed location

There remains some work to be done before settling on the final site, however, the proposed site at Bundoora Bowls Club responds to the characteristics of a successful State/Regional sporting precinct and high-performance centre. These include:

  • Being located in a high-profile site, central to the high population area.
  • Success factors are the mix of high-quality greens (multiple) and flexible social spaces supported by hospitality. The facility can be developed to support the State Bowls Centre facility requirements.
  • Close to public transport, major road arterials that connect across metropolitan cities and with regional cities, accommodation options and within a sport and recreation precinct.
  • Provides a broad range of facilities including high quality training (and event) facilities, teaching spaces, sport administration offices, high performance gyms, athlete testing facilities, hospitality and allied health and medical rooms.
  • The need to attract a broad range of uses for both elite level and community level sport and be highly programmable.
  • The local club (Bundoora Bowls Club) is a strong healthy club and is supportive of the shared development proposal.
  • The local Council (Banyule City Council) is supportive of the proposal.

Other sites which scored highly on the criteria are Sunbury, Glen Waverley and Buckley Park Bowls Clubs.