It's official. With a welcome to country, smoking ceremony, speeches and a cutting of ribbons, the city's flagship new indoor sports and events centre formally opened today.
With speeches echoing under the huge roof of the 3000-seat showcourt, a procession of dignitaries welcomed the arrival of the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre, or BSEC as it is already known.
A crowd of players, parents, politicians, council staff and sporting officials listened from one of the banks of retractable seats.
Senator Jane Hume, the City of Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh and Wendouree MP Juliana Addison all stood up to pay tribute to those that made it happen.
As well as acknowledging the funding, which included contributions at council, state and federal government levels, each of them made special mention of the CEO of Ballarat Basketball Peter Eddy.
Cr McIntosh said the centre would help "uphold [Ballarat's] reputation as one of the great sporting cities in Australia."
Works on the $24 million facility - which has six new courts that can be used for basketball, volleyball and netball - began in March 2018.
The $5.2 million stage two of the project development will add four outdoor three-on-three (street ball) courts, a strength and conditioning centre and a new skin for the existing building.
Mr Eddy himself said the stadium's opening was the fulfilment of a dream that had begun back in 2006.
"Yes, it's been a long time," he said. "But it's been a great journey."
He said the centre will be the equal of any in regional Australia and a venue "we should all be very proud of."
He paid particular tribute to the MP Jaala Pulford, who was unable to be at the opening. He said Ms Pulford had been backing the project "as much as anyone" for the past decade.
He also thanked local builders AW Nicholson for their professionalism and dedication and to the architects "whose vision inspired this terrific facility."
The courts will host their first major game on Friday September 13 when Melbourne United face Illawarra Hawks. The Hawks team is expected to include LeMelo Ball, a 17-year-old point guard from California widely considered one of the world's most exciting up-and-coming players.
A basketball coaches conference will also take place at the centre in October, while Ballarat Miners and Ballarat Rush will transfer their games to the stadium next season.
Meanwhile 10-year-old Stella Quon, who plays for the Celtic Tigers and attended today's official opening, told The Courier she had already enjoyed trying out the courts.
The opening of the new courts was "really exciting," she said.
2004-05: Minerdome upgrades to host basketball for Commonwealth Games in March 2006.
2010: Indoor sports groups enter talks to address critical court shortage.
March 2012: Plans for new six-court facility in Wendouree made public.
May 2013: Council commits to deliver major new indoor sports facility in five-year plan.
2014: Labor state government delivers $9 million, Council $5 million.
2015-16: Project knocked back three times for federal grant.
July 31, 2017: Federal government announces $10 million for project.
March 2018: First sod turned on project.
November 2018: $5.2 million state boost for stage two.
July 2019: Stadium opens to community.
August 4, 2019: Official opening.
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