Katherine Town Council's surprise bid to use the abandoned oval at the old Katherine Sports and Recreation Club has been knocked back.
As a result, the scheduled multi-million dollar upgrade of the town's sportsgrounds will likely be placed on hold until later this year.
The NT Government has revealed it finally has a potential buyer for the Giles Street grounds.
The Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics also said Giles Street did not have the necessary certification for either the oval or the change rooms/toilets to allow them to be used.
Council officers have recommended council vote at its monthly meeting on Tuesday night to further delay the planned sportsgrounds upgrades until at least September, after the dry season sports competitions.
As least one sports group had become alarmed about delays with the project which would cause the upgrades to interfere with their short sports seasons.
Council last month approach DIPL to see if it could use the two hectare Sports and Recreation ground as a temporary measure while the work at the town sportsgrounds went ahead.
Other than the lack of certification and risk to public safety, DIPL's northern region senior director Claire Brown said the department was "currently dealing with an application for a direct sale" of the site which has been abandoned for five years.
"Given these dealings the department cannot guarantee the grounds will be available to use during the 2020 sports season," Ms Brown told council.
The project was supposed to have begun in October last year so it would not impact on the 2020 dry season competitions but has suffered delays.
Some of those delays have involved cost blowouts and a direction to consultants to re-design the centrepiece of the project, the demolition and replacement of the old Don Dale Pavilion.
Katherine Junior Rugby League treasurer Annette Schefe had asked council to further delay the work to September.
"We have great concerns our field will not be available," the letter stated... "It will have a major impact on our club."
"We were advised work would start in 2019... our season runs from March to September and we use field 2 extensively."
Council received a $11.4 million grant from the NT Government almost 18 months ago to upgrade the CBD, sportground and showground.
Of that, $4.4 million was allocated to the sportsground, mainly to upgrade the Don Dale Pavilion.
But concerns over the condition of the fields prompted the council to allocate $200,000 from its own reserves to fix Oval 2.
Council documents state Oval 2 "is constructed on a rocky surface with a minimum coverage of topsoil. It has no proper drainage system and the surface is undulating".
During the dry season, the sportsground ovals are used by hundreds of players participating in athletics, touch, rugby and soccer each week.
Council says the delay to work on Oval 2 lies in revamping the lights, which are not compliant to the size of the field.
While council is under mounting pressure to move the upgrades forward, sport groups say work should have started last year.
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