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Queensland ambitions built on enduring innovation

In association with Tourism and Events Queensland

Jersey's Ashton Kimberly during the Cycling Time Trial on day six of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Currumbin Beachfront on April 10, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jason O'Brien/Getty Images)

In December, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed that the proposal to host the 2032 Games would progress to the next stage of the process.

The Games would not only feature Brisbane, but also Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, which hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games to great acclaim, as well as some key regional centres, incorporating state-of-the-art sporting facilities and destinations from across the state.

While the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast – swiftly followed by the success of the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit 2019 in the same city – proved Queensland’s hosting capabilities to a global audience, the state’s credentials as a major sports destination were already recognised worldwide.

Collaborations

Over the years, Queensland has developed fruitful partnerships with international federations, national associations, promoters and properties, with such collaborations focusing on the goal of enhancing the appeal of events for participants, officials, spectators, commercial partners and members of the media.

One event that has elevated the fan experience is the Australian PGA Championship, which has taken place in Southeast Queensland since 2000, shifting from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast and returning to Brisbane in 2020.

Michael McDonald, the PGA of Australia and European Tour’s commercial director for Australasia, highlights the positive working relationship with Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) as key to the success of the tournament’s growth. TEQ is the Queensland Government’s lead marketing, destination and experience development and major events agency.

“Queensland offers excellent infrastructure, a wonderful climate and world-class golf facilities to host an event such as the Australian PGA Championship,” McDonald says.

“TEQ not only supports our vision for the tournament but plays an active role in assisting to deliver an innovative sporting event. With TEQ, we aspire to engage fans with first-of-its-kind experiences by creating new on-course precincts that celebrate the city we host in, and will engage new and existing fans of all demographics to our great game.”

McDonald refers to the Soniq Million Dollar Hole, an initiative for professionals and amateurs that grew with the support of TEQ from a humble secondary hospitality and activation zone to one of the championship’s most popular features, including multiple marquees and a beach club precinct with live DJs and music.

“This level of cohesion elevated the fun and fresh tone TEQ has helped us establish,” McDonald adds. “TEQ has also made the Australian PGA Championship a sought-after event for our players by creating unique and tailored tourism experiences for them and their families.

“Many athletes take part in these coordinated tourism activities, which are integrated into the broadcast coverage and promoted to millions of viewers around the world. The additional benefit is that these ‘bucket list’ experiences are shared with friends and loved ones back home, and they assist with future player procurement and takes our players’ tournament experience to another level.”

Competitors start the Mixed Team Relay during the Triathlon on day three of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Southport Broadwater Parklands on April 7, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Event-friendly authorities

According to Grant Baldock, director of Beyond the Break Consulting, which works for Water Polo Australia, Queensland also offers appealing recreational activities and “event-friendly government authorities” that can help to enhance the event experience.

“TEQ is always looking at adding value to events and looking at how our event can be more engaging to participants and spectators,” says Baldock, who highlights the example of how the USA v Australia test series took place in conjunction with the 2020 Australian Youth Water Polo Championships as part of a joint initiative in January. The contests took place at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre, hailed by Baldock as one of several world-class facilities on offer.

Similarly, Volleyball Australia has enjoyed positive collaborations with the state on various events.

“TEQ genuinely enters their relationship with an event owner as a partner and invests time and effort into understanding the event and owning the outcome,” Volleyball Australia chief executive Andrew Dee says. “As a result, conversations about challenges and opportunities are always constructive with a sense of mutual ownership.

“TEQ understands that moving events from one location to another can be challenging in the first year and provides the benefit of their experience and network to smooth out any bumps. TEQ is also committed to adding economic value to the events for the relevant region by finding new markets and growing the event over time.”

Whilst acknowledging the “obvious” benefits of staging events in Queensland – such as the climate, attractions and facilities – Dee says that some of the most important factors are “some of the intangible things you don’t know about until you’re there that really make a difference to the atmosphere and ease of running an event”. He includes in this list, as examples, the proximity of the facilities to each other, accommodation options and the helpful and relaxed nature of the people.

Cameron Davis of Australia plays a shot out of the bunker on the 17th hole during day four of the PGA Championships at RACV Royal Pines on December 22, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

State of endurance

The local appetite for sport is fuelled by Queensland’s outdoor lifestyle and natural assets, which allow a series of endurance events to take place in stunning destinations across the state.

In 2017, an online survey was commissioned by TEQ to explore what motivates endurance athletes and to gauge their impression of Queensland as a host of endurance events, in order to give the state a greater understanding of a key target market.

The results found that an overwhelming majority of respondents rated Queensland’s welcoming and inclusive nature, atmosphere and climate, whilst the opportunity to compete in a bucket-list destination and enjoy a holiday after the event whilst spending quality time with family and friends were also raised.

As an undisputed ‘state of endurance’, Queensland stages numerous such events every year, including Ironman triathlon and the Gold Coast Marathon.

Cam Hart, chief executive of Event Management Queensland, which operates the annual marathon, says: “Queensland offers an ideal environment in which to deliver world-class endurance events.

“An abundance of fine weather, world-famous holiday destinations as host cities, flat scenic courses and a mature and experienced major events industry means Queensland sets the benchmark that other event destinations around the world are striving to reach.”

According to Hart, the locals also understand how major endurance events can deliver significant social and economic benefits to communities, with the 2019 edition of the marathon having injected some A$32.5m (€18.2m.$19.9m) into the local economy and generated more than 114,000 visitor nights.

“They love to come out to cheer on visitors from around the world as they participate at our events,” Hart says. “Feedback from international visitors on our Gold Coast Marathon suggests that the enthusiastic support from locals is a major influencer in choosing our event over others.”

Infrastructure

Queensland’s natural scenery, which provides a perfect platform for sporting events in the great outdoors, is complemented by state-of-the-art sporting infrastructure.

Aside from Gold Coast’s impressive line-up of facilities following the Commonwealth Games, recent upgrades and new facility projects across the state have ensured Queensland’s reputation as a golden destination for arena and stadium-based sports is renowned worldwide.

The Anna Meares Velodrome – named after the most decorated female track cyclist of all time and opened ahead of the 2018 Games – is one such venue in Brisbane.

To demonstrate the post-event legacy following the Games, last year, the International Cycling Union (UCI) Track Cycling World Cup took place at the velodrome after having been secured by the Queensland Government via TEQ in partnership with Brisbane City Council via Brisbane Marketing and Cycling Australia.

“The Anna Meares Velodrome has been a perfect venue for events hosted in Brisbane from a UCI World Cup, UCI Para-cycling events and National Championships,” says Kipp Kaufmann, general manager of sport at Cycling Australia. “The venue has allowed us to attract and deliver these events to the highest international level.

“Queensland is the perfect place for an event. From world-class venues, highly trained volunteers and perfect year-round weather, any event can be successfully hosted in Queensland. Local and state governments are also highly knowledgeable and supportive of hosting events which helps us to deliver highly successful events in Queensland.”

In fact, the state’s sporting infrastructure has been widely respected for many years, offering the likes of the 42,000-seat Gabba, the 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium, the 27,400-seat Cbus Super Stadium, the 25,000-capacity Metricon Stadium, the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, which holds 48,500 spectators, the Sleeman Sports Complex, Queensland Tennis Centre and the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

The most recent addition to the landscape – the 25,000-capacity Queensland Country Bank Stadium, which opened in March 2020 – will bring international rugby union back to North Queensland for the first time in 17 years on July 18.

The Townsville venue will host an historic match as the men’s national team, the Wallabies, takes on Fiji.

Nathan Sobey of Australia drives to the basket during the Men’s Gold Medal Basketball Game between Australia and Canada on day 11 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on April 15, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Engage

The stadium is a joint project of the Queensland Government, Australian Government and Townsville City Council and is supported by the National Rugby League and North Queensland Cowboys. For Rugby Australia, the venue will provide a further opportunity to engage with a sports-hungry public in Queensland.

“Queensland has been a long-standing host of rugby Test matches with many rugby fans in that market,” Rugby Australia’s general manager of commercial partnerships, Peter Sciberras, says.

“There are excellent facilities for Test matches in many parts of Queensland, and this allows us to take elite level rugby to the rugby community and fans in those parts.

“Test matches predominantly take place in Brisbane, but we have world-class options on the Gold Coast and now Townsville where we will have a Test match double header featuring the Wallabies and the Wallaroos against international opponents in July.

“Rugby has also enjoyed the infrastructure of the Gold Coast area prior to the Commonwealth Games, utilising the Robina complex for international sevens tournaments and Test matches.”

Like numerous other major sports organisations, Rugby Australia has benefited from the backing of TEQ in delivering elite sporting occasions across the state.

“Rugby Australia has had a long-term relationship with TEQ and we are very appreciative of their supportive approach in promoting our events and rugby in general,” Sciberras adds.

“We always look forward to kicking off our international season at Suncorp Stadium, a ground where the Wallabies have had the most success in recent years, and taking major events to the market including Bledisloe Cup matches. With a mix of great facilities and ideal weather for rugby during the winter months, Queensland is an excellent destination for fans.”

Whether those facilities welcome back rugby sevens as an Olympic sport in 2032 remains to be seen, but it is clear that Queensland’s ambitions to stage sport’s biggest global event are being underpinned by solid infrastructure, a natural platform and appetite for endurance sports and an innovative strategy that will continue to drive the state’s impressive sporting outlook.

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