13 May 2024

Controversial sports oval name change 'likely' following graffiti defacing

| Jarryd Rowley
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oval sign with name erased

Wagga Wagga City Council says it has no plans to remove graffiti from the Michael Slater Oval signage until a report on a potential name change has concluded. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

Wagga Wagga City Council says it has no intention of cleaning up the graffiti defacing the signage on Michael Slater Oval before a report is completed.

The controversially named oval hit the headlines last week when someone spray-painted over the ”Michael Slater” portion of the sign.

The graffiti, which likely served as a protest against Mr Slater and his growing history of domestic violence charges, has caused mixed reactions from the Wagga community. Many are calling for the name to stay and for the council to separate the former Australian Test batsman’s achievements from his current actions, while others, including Wagga councillors, want a renaming.

READ MORE Michael Slater’s name defaced on sporting oval signage

Passers-by have also noticed that similar coloured spray paint has been used on other sites around the oval, including the train crossing and several light poles.

The council released a statement stating that it does not intend to remove the graffiti until a report into the potential renaming of the site is completed.

“Council has a policy for the naming and renaming of facilities such as ovals,” a spokesperson said.

“It is likely that a report will be made to council recommending that the name of the oval be changed.”

The current Parks Naming Policy followed by WWCC, which was reviewed in November 2023, states: ”Council reserves the right to renew the name of any open space area at its discretion.”

The same policy also says: ”The replacement of an existing established place name with a new name is generally not accepted subject to a detailed review.”

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When it comes to naming a park or oval within Wagga Council’s LGA, the policy also suggests that any names up for consideration should perpetuate eminent persons, a person’s contribution to the local community is to be of outstanding benefit to the community and that names with a historical background relevant to the area are encouraged.

Given Mr Slater’s current legal situation and increasing counts of violent and stalking-related charges, many believe that he no longer provides a positive contribution or outstanding benefit to the Wagga Wagga community.

Under the previous guidelines, it would suggest that a local sports figure related to either soccer or cricket be given the honour of the oval renaming should councillors vote in favour of the change, as the field is primarily used for soccer during winter and cricket during summer.

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Readers can find the council’s current Park Naming Policy here.

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