Latest GM Column – 12 August 2017.
The recent announcement that Council was successful in its bid for Federal funding towards a $13.4m upgrade of the C.ex Coffs International has rightly been lauded as fantastic news for the city, for sport and for the region’s economy.
But you may ask yourself – why is Council spending money at the Stadium again? It’s a question that does come up and I’d like to outline why it is so important to improve its facilities to maintain the Stadium’s reputation as one of Australia’s premier regional event venues.
Put simply, it’s about dollars. Sports tourism delivers around $30m every year to the Coffs Coast – and the Stadium can claim credit for around $19m of that money. We’re not talking about ticket sales or beverage revenue; the money goes directly to the locals providing accommodation, meals, shopping and other services that the participants, supporters, officials and media enjoy when they are here for an event.
That money is recycled through the local economy via wages and services, helping generate more jobs and more services which, in turn, ultimately help grow the region’s economy.
We’ve focused a lot in recent years in creating a playing surface that is both versatile – to attract a wide variety of sports – and well-drained so that very few events will be weather-affected. We also have broadcast quality lighting which directly led to Coffs hosting our first A-League/W-League double-header.
However, there has been no significant investment in the grandstand, or the facilities for players, spectators, media and officials, corporate hospitality options, parking and refreshments areas for more than 20 years. But now we have the grant, we can begin the necessary upgrades for the Stadium to maintain its ranking as a top regional and national venue into the future.
Hosting top-flight sports stars is also a sure-fire way of capturing the imagination of the young local sports stars of the future – as well as encouraging participation in activities that help build healthy and active communities. Of course, the state and national events that bring the top-flight players also attract fans and families, who play a large part in increasing the numbers of visitors coming to Coffs every year.
Let’s not forget too that the Stadium is a very important venue for those youngsters all year round with a huge number of school carnivals and local sports competitions held there annually, as well as providing enjoyment – and employment – for the wider community.