THE expansion of the Wendouree Sports and Events Complex is imperative to economic growth in the region, according to Ballarat’s head of tourism.
Ballarat Regional Tourism chief executive officer George Sossi told The Courier the expansion of the Wendouree Sports and Events Complex had the potential to inject millions of dollars into the local economy if it was developed.
Mr Sossi said the development had been earmarked as a top priority in BRT’s recently released tourism infrastructure destination management plan, alongside the state government’s multimillion-dollar masterplan to refurbish the Ballarat Railway Precinct.
The move follows the City of Ballarat’s Regional Capital Plan, which was released last year and prioritised $37 million worth of projects for a major Ballarat events precinct.
The plan included a 6000-seat AFL stadium as well as the proposed $9 million indoor basketball and netball stadium and $8 million sports house.
“If we want to continue to be competitive in the sporting industry, then this development needs to go ahead,” Mr Sossi said.
“In our view, it is absolutely critical that our sporting facilities for netball and basketball are upgraded to attract more sporting events to Ballarat ahead of other regional cities.”
He said despite the high participation rates in ball sports, including almost 6000 basketball and netball players involved in the city’s weekly competitions, the infrastructure in Ballarat lagged behind regional cities like Geelong and Bendigo.
“Usually what happens with under-18 events is that players will bring their families and they will stay for five or six days,” Mr Sossi said.
“This is a very large boost to economic visitation and it is not just filling beds in the town.”
Mr Sossi said he also had visions of the complex being used as multi-purpose hub.
“When it isn’t being used for sporting events, it could be used as a mini-exhibition space and for community events,” Mr Sossi said.
“The possibilities for it as an event precinct are endless.”
City of Ballarat mayor Joshua Morris said the council had been working closely with the Ballarat basketball and netball communities.
Cr Morris said the prospect of the complex and the economic benefit it could bring into the city was exciting.
“Large tournaments generate strong tourism, hospitality and accommodation outcomes, which benefits the entire city,” Cr Morris said.
“(The) council continues to support the groups as they lobby for funding through the forthcoming state election.”