Australia venue make a killing amid COVID



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Queensland Country Bank Stadium economic impact Image: Queensland Country Bank Stadium

A North Queensland (Australia)-based economist has reported that Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium has generated $70 million in economic benefits for the region since its opening in February 2020, hosting 30 major events in that time.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ stated that opened just before coronavirus lockdowns blew to smithereens the events industry as of March last year, the venue has thrived in the post-lockdown environment, stepping in to stage major events such as this year’s first National Rugby League (NRL) State of Origin match.

The 25,000-capacity North Queensland Stadium, commercially known as the Queensland Country Bank Stadium, is a multipurpose stadium in South Townsville, Queensland, Australia.

The State of Origin series is an annual best-of-three rugby league series between two Australian State representative sides, the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons. Players are selected to represent the Australian State in which they play their first senior rugby league game.

With major events across the country falling victim to the COVID-19 shutdowns as Australia is clobbered by the deadly virus, the Townsville venue has emerged as a savior of Australia’s events calendar.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ further stated that the regional economist Colin Dwyer said five recent drawcard matches – including the State of Origin and the Oceania Rugby Sevens – had meant big business for Townsville.

Dwyer advised, “We’re looking at around $37.9 million being generated locally out of those matches … and there’ll be over 10,000 jobs hours that have been created. That stadium is about putting bums on seats, heads into beds, buyers into local businesses, and promoting Townsville as a national and international event destination. And it’s doing a darn good job of it at the moment.”

The Oceania Sevens is an international rugby sevens competition organized by Oceania Rugby. It has been held regularly since 2008 to select the best men’s national team in Oceania.

Commenting on the success of the $290 million venue, Stadium Manager Tom Kimball maintained, “While the rest of the world shuts down, Queensland – and in particular North Queensland – continues to thrive.”

Business and community leaders are confident Townsville has “proved its worth” as a premier events destination that will pay off long after the nation reopens.

Kimball added, “Just over 417,000 patrons have come to the venue since the venue opened, which is unreal.”

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill advised, “I can’t express how lucky we are to have the stadium, to have these events rolling through, just to at least keep our tourism economy, our event economy going.”

Dwyer said the stadium had boosted the City as an international events destination, with the venue able to pick up a raft of major games due to scheduling changes forced by COVID-19.

He looked back to the 2016 Federal Election as having been vital in getting the venue built, recalling “a host of Townsville organizations advocated for the new stadium, including Governments, TEL, Chamber of Commerce, Townsville Bulletin, and some election candidates.”

Maintained Dwyer, “The power of preferences in that election played a small but influential part in achieving our stadium and the jobs that came with it. The community wasn’t always behind it and an economic impact study suggested it was a marginal project. Poor job conditions, low confidence and a depressed economy forced a change at the 2016 election for the better.”

Noting its benefits, Dwyer added, “In an otherwise sluggish tourist accommodation season, the Stadium events have filled hotels, motels, Air BnBs, and encouraged plans for new accommodation facilities. The additional expenditure (putting buyers in local businesses) is estimated to have generated over $37 million so far this calendar year.”

Dwyer added, “Rugby is huge around the world and having the best teams in Townsville is a great opportunity to encourage future Super Rugby and internationals. The stadium has been in the right place at the right time in 2021 to capitalize on COVID conditions. Next year and future years will be different. We need to adapt. If a regional stadium is to attract elite football, rugby, NRL, and top bands, it needs an events attraction fund to compete with major Cities on a level economic playing field.”

Kimball also remained determined that the venue will continue to be an attractive venue into the future, adding, “We’ve absolutely got the momentum going -I’m not concerned in the slightest.”

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