Recently the Ballarat indoor sports community celebrated the announcement architects had been appointed for the first new community indoor sports centre to be built in the city since 1986.
The $14 million secured from state and local support for the project to date achieves the immediate goal of providing quality game and training facilities for local community sport and a home base for the Ballarat Sovereigns state netball and Miners and Rush basketball teams.
The larger vision has also been to deliver an iconic sports and events centre that can keep Ballarat and the western region as one of the premier event destinations in regional Australia. To make this a reality we have secured the support of the six Central Highlands councils that have endorsed this major transformational project that will benefit the entire region.
We now need to secure the remaining $10 million in regional funding to complete this $24 million sports and events centre. We hope to secure this funding in round three of the National Stronger Regions Fund grants announced in the coming months.
Without federal government funding we will not deliver those components of this development that take this from being a good community facility to a major regional indoor sports and events centre.
It is not only the sports and events community that will benefit from this development but indeed the whole of the region benefits, from retail to hospitality, accommodation to the tourism sector.
In 2015 events at our current indoor facilities generated $4.7 million in economic benefit. However our aging facilities no longer meet minimum tender requirements to maintain many of these events into the future. We will lose these events to other centres.
With federal government funding, and a fully developed BSEC, we will not only retain this economic benefit but will increase this by a further $3.2 million per annum with up to five extra events each year.
In all this is nearly $9 million in annual economic benefit that the greater Western region desperately needs to secure.
The project will also create new events and sports industry jobs to operate the expanded venue, including a new events unit to help sports and other community groups tender for and operate major events.
A 3000-seat showcourt facility is a must and this will introduce many events to the Western region that currently pass us by and will service an area from Bacchus Marsh to Hamilton and from Maryborough to Warrnambool.
The extra courts will provide a permanent home for wheelchair sport, Special Olympics, Midnight Basketball for Youth at Risk and expanded school competitions, as well as a regional training base for junior netball and basketball athletes to give them a realistic career path from a beginner to the Diamonds or Opals, all in their own backyard. Talented junior athletes, coaches and parents will travel for two to three hours rather than into Melbourne.
The key to success in sports tourism investment is to deliver on four critical elements: culture, venue location, product and facility infrastructure. The missing link for the Western region of regional Victoria is facility infrastructure.
A $10 million grant from the federal government’s National Stronger Regions Fund can address this issue and keep us at the forefront of events hosting in regional Australia.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.