THE Ballarat community will understandably be dismayed at today’s news that the city has missed out on another opportunity to host a major event.
While the Nitro Circus event might not be high on everyone’s entertainment choice list, it was likely to draw up to 10,000 people from the city and across regional Victoria to Ballarat for the once off-event, boosting tourism and providing a stimulus for the hospitality sector.
Despite months of work by Ballarat Regional Tourism to secure the event, our facilities have again been found wanting. The options to host Nitro Circus – Eureka Stadium and the City Oval – are, for different reasons, not available.
Too often other significant events or exhibitions are hosted in adhoc facilities – such as the Powderfinger concert at the North Gardens – or just not at all. The debate about popular touring exhibitions going elsewhere has been the source of considerable debate this year.
It’s a possibility that Bendigo will host the Nitro Circus event instead. That city is fast gaining a reputation as a superior event and exhibition host, which must be galling for Ballarat leaders. But we shouldn’t be harping on what we don’t have, because there are many great events hosted here. But a solution of improved facilities is required in the long term.
In this aspect, a fully-costed and documented proposal for an entertainment and sports precinct at the Eureka Stadium site remains a solution which this newspaper supports.
While this project has been criticised for focusing too heavily on attracting AFL games, the $80 million proposal promises so much more. If the vision which has been tabled can be realised, it should make Ballarat a more attractive, and workable, city to host big events.
It will help to grow a new vibrancy and opportunities.
Convincing state and federal governments of the need for this facility has not been easy, and is complicated by history.
But the investment of more than 20 local community and sporting groups, and the overwhelming support of the community to back the project, must hold serious weight.
The disappointment of opportunities lost must be used as further ammunition. Ballarat has in some respects been a poor cousin in terms of government funding in recent years compared with other regional centres.
The time to turn this disappointment into action is now.