The Catholic Diocese agreed to exchange on the parcel of land in Lorn, following a three-decade-long partnership between the two organisations. Since 1994, the Catholic Diocese has supported the Maitland Rugby Union Football Club by providing them with a long-term lease of the grounds at peppercorn rent.
The Club has aspirations to develop a community hub on the site, and has secured federal government funding to bring their masterplan to life. With this in mind, the Club approached the Diocese to buy the parcel of land and make Marcellin Park its permanent home ground. The Club has plans to lodge its Development Application with Maitland City Council early next year.
Maitland Rugby Club President Pat Howard and MRC life member Todd Bowd recently met with representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and proposed that the Club purchase the parcel of land.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the Diocese for the support they’ve shown to the Club by leasing Marcellin Park to us at a reduced rate for the past 30 years,” Mr Howard said.
“As we enter this new stage in the Club’s identity, we felt that if ever there was a time to officially make Marcellin Park the ‘home’ of Maitland Rugby Union Football Club, now it is.”
“Being a club that is entering into it’s 145th year, recognising our history is something that is most dear to us. Since being at Marcellin Park the Catholic Diocese’s contribution is now part of our proud history”.
Accordingly, Mr Howard presented the Club’s vision for the ground to become a community asset that would include a new clubhouse, netball courts and a multipurpose area, junior training and playing fields, improved parking facilities, lighting, and drainage and eventually, an indoor swimming pool.
In exchange for the sale, the Maitland Rugby Union Football Club also proposed that schools in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, including All Saints College and St John’s Primary School, could continue to access the facility free of charge.
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle's Chief Executive Officer, Sean Scanlon, supports the Club’s vision. “The Maitland Rugby Club have developed a great concept for Marcellin Park, which will benefit the entire community. We accepted their proposal as we want to see them succeed and are buoyed by the opportunities the new facilities will deliver to our students. Good things happen when organisations work together,” Mr Scanlon said.
All Saints College Maitland Principal, Marc Romano, was equally as happy. “All Saints College has many students who currently play for the Maitland Rugby Union Football Club, and I’m excited for what this new era in partnership will deliver for them, as well as all our students who will gain access to a range of first-class facilities that will take sports programs to the next level.”
The Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Maitland purchased the land from Leslie John Hicks in June 1965. As part of the deal struck in December 2021, the Club has agreed to retain the name Marcellin Park, to protect and preserve the history of Marcellin Park and for a representative of the Diocese to become a member of the Marcellin Asset Protection Sub-Committee of the Maitland Rugby Union Football Club.