The City of Ballarat is hoping more major sporting events will help boost a tourism economy still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.
Ballarat is already home to two professional teams, the Western Bulldogs and Western United, two venues designed for high-level sport, Mars Stadium and Ballarat Sports Events Centre, as well as a series of high-level junior and amateur events.
One of Australian basketball's biggest events is also set to come to town with the 2022 Australian Under-18 Championships and Kevin Coombs Cup to be hosted at the BSEC.
Council has recently advertised for a sports events acquisition officer specifically to draw more of these major events to the city. Part of the new role will be the development of a sports events strategy and annual action plan.
City of Ballarat executive manager recreation services Mark Patterson said the new role would place a stronger focus on event acquisition.
"We look at the events that are already attracted such as the AFL, such as the basketball events that come to Ballarat and they have a significant boost to particularly hospitality and the nights that people stay here in Ballarat," he said.
"It's also about those events that bring multiple day stays to Ballarat, so those junior national and state level events. There's an enormous array of those across the state and we want to be at the forefront of positioning ourselves to host those events."
Mr Patterson said council was regularly in conversation with leagues and organisations about bringing high-level events to Ballarat.
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"We continue to talk to netball about netball events, but also the Women's Big Bash League that had a hiatus, unfortunately, last year due to COVID, to bring an event back to the the Eastern Oval there again is going to be part of that process," he said.
North ward councillor Peter Eddy, who previously served as chief executive of Ballarat Basketball for 30 years, managing both the Minerdome and BSEC, said council should be looking at multi-day events like the UniSport Nationals.
"You need people with expertise in the space to be identifying not only the major sports... it could be anything, but we need to really have a good look at the whole sporting sector and see what capacity there is to attract those sort of sports into Ballarat," he said.
"I think that we need to look at events that have the capacity to deliver a two to seven-day sporting experience. The Vixens, when they came earlier this year, were a classic example.
"They came for two games over two days and in the middle of that they had some development and coaching programs, so that means people who were coming to those events were actually much more likely to stay in Ballarat overnight.
"It's not only good for the economy, but that high-level approach of the athlete in Ballarat is the sort of thing that encourages kids to stay in sport and if we can get more people playing sport on a regular basis as a result, I think that's a real bonus."
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