The ACT government will inject $3.3 million into Canberra's sports sector in a bid to keep leagues above water as their clubs stare down the barrel of major financial hits.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced Canberra's grassroots sports off the park for the foreseeable future and raised questions about their financial sustainability.
But the government's move paves the way for an immediate financial injection $700,000 to ACT peak sport and recreation bodies.
The government will also waive sportsground hire fees for all bookings stemming from mid-March to the end of September, which is estimated at $616,000. All existing bookings will be reserved.
Recovery of all outstanding invoice payments due for ACT government sportsground hire fees has also been suspended.
Canberra's major sporting bodies have come together to work through scheduling conflicts which are set to arise when sports resume with football codes and cricket on a collision course.
Canberra Region Rugby League general manager Mark Vergano says the government's package will be a huge boost for sports which already face major questions about sponsorship and their financial models.
"The waiving of ground hire fees is very much appreciated, and it's something the whole sector has spoken to the government about and the government has listened," Vergano said.
"Clubs will be under serious financial pressure when they return with plenty of unknowns as far as sponsorship, canteens and everything else that goes with running and keeping a club sustainable. Any removal of fixed expenses is greatly appreciated.
"For clubs that are likely to be under financial pressure, we appreciate the leniency and support shown to clubs whose hard-working volunteers have a lot to contend with to get community sport back up and running.
"Everyone has got to look at their financial models and see where they're at. Some clubs have deeper resources they can call on, others are far more susceptible and will need to carefully look at their cost base.
"We appreciate there are plenty of demands on the government at the moment, and they have come up with a plan to support sport. We look forward to a bit more detail coming through."
Early access to the 2021 sport and recreation grants program will allow the 28 triennially funded organisations to receive their 2021 funding allocation from 1 July 2020. This is set to fast track about $1.5 million in funding.
The government will bring forward the 2021 sport and recreation grants program, inviting applications in the first half of the calendar year to enable the release of funds early in 2020-21. This will inject additional funding of $1 million for sector capacity building projects and smaller capital works.