Hobsons Bay’s mayor has defended the council’s decision not to buy a large parcel of Mobil land for a sports centre, saying it would have cost a lot more than the purported offer of $1.

As revealed by Star Weekly, negotiations to build a Hobsons Bay sports centre on 16.7 hectares at the corner of Maddox and Kororoit Creek roads fell through after the council declined an invitation from Mobil to tender for the development.

The sports proposal, developed between five codes, included 24 tennis courts, 16 netball courts, two football ovals, four basketball courts and four soccer pitches, one of which could double for lacrosse.

Following our report, mayor Sandra Wilson released a statement that the council learnt that proceeding with the tender would have cost significantly more than the $1.

“Council submitted an expression of interest with a community sports precinct in mind based on earlier indications that the land could be exchanged on a community goodwill basis,” she said.

“During that EOI process, council was given access to documentation … about the land parcel, its former uses and the detail of their commercial market process.

“As a result of reviewing that information, and subsequent advice given by Mobil and its representatives that the financial commitment to proceed to the competitive tender process was significantly higher than $1, council felt that it was not feasible to proceed.”

Cr Peter Hemphill, who is on the working group that developed the sports centre proposal, said the state government’s Sustainability Fund could have covered the cost of decontaminating the land.

“We could have put in a bid for $1 but we have to show how we would account for the clean-up of the land,” Cr Hemphill said.

“I had talked to [Treasurer] Tim Pallas about using the tip-fee money councils pay – there is only $460 million sitting in a government reserve in this fund – for the clean-up of any contamination.

“The group firmly believed it [contamination] was not a showstopper.”