Collingwood president Eddie McGuire. Source: Wayne Ludbey / News Limited
COLLINGWOOD pocketed more than $600,000 in interest after banking a controversial $10 million federal government grant last year.
The grant - for community facilities at the Magpies' Olympic Park base - was announced in May 2012 and came as a surprise to the State Government, which through the Melbourne Olympic Park Trust owned and managed the land.
Collingwood said the funding agreement with the former Labor government stipulated that interest earned on the grant be directed back into the project.
NEW NAME FOR HARRY
The club said the scope of the project had been widened because of the interest windfall.
After the funding announcement, Victorian sports minister Hugh Delahunty said: "The tenant has announced starting a renovation without approval from the landlord first" while federal Liberal senator Cory Bernardi blasted the deal as "slipshod".
The $10 million grant and associated interest - along with a further $1.15 million grant from the MOPT for the refurbishment of Collingwood's office facility - were included in the club's total revenue figure of $75 million for the year ending October 31.
The Magpies received a total of $935,798 in interest - up from $389,748 in 2012.
Collingwood said preparatory works were underway on the community facility and hoped to finalise the tender process for a builder within a fortnight.
Collingwood's Dane Swan pictured during training at the Westpac Centre, December 9, 2013. Picture: Mark Stewart Source: News Limited
The project has now received approval from all authorities, with the club spending $1.29 million of grant and interest money on the planning and approval process.
The original forecast was for the project to cost $15 million, but that figure could now exceed $20 million.
Collingwood yesterday said it may spend $10 million of its own money.
The club said the community facility would allow greater access to the Olympic Park Oval, provide public toilets and locker rooms, links to the river, riding and walking trails and the Tan. Meeting and event rooms, a health and wellness centre, cafe and theatrette are also planned.
No new drawings or impressions of the facility were available last night.
A spokesman for Federal Sports Minister Peter Dutton said "This is one of numerous projects provided with grants by the previous government.
"Details of the interest earned have been reported to the department. The new Coalition Government is bound by the existing contract on this project."
The Herald Sun understands that whether to pay grant money upfront is a decision made at the government's discretion.
The project is expected to be completed by June 2015.