This article was produced in association with Gold Coast, Queensland
Having welcomed 6,500 athletes and team officials from across the world to Queensland for the Commonwealth Games, an unprecedented number of elite sportspeople have been given a flavour of the Gold Coast.
For a city that prides itself on providing an unrivalled destination for sportspeople and fans, hosting the largest sporting event to land on Australia’s shores this decade has provided an ideal platform for its state-of-the-art facilities.
Some A$200m (€127/$156m) was pumped into the Gold Coast’s sporting infrastructure ahead of the Games, with sustainability at the heart of the plans. Three new venues - Gold Coast Sport Precinct, Coomera Indoor Sport Centre and Sound Stage 9 - were not only delivered well ahead of the Games’ deadlines, along with upgrades at six other venues, but were also fully tested. For example, the Sudirman Cup took place at Gold Coast Sport Precinct and Pan Pacific Games competitions took place at Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.
In addition to the sporting infrastructure, the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village will provide more than 1,200 permanent dwellings, alongside future development opportunities within the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct.
The significant investment in the bricks and mortar of the Gold Coast’s sporting future is part of a broader $12bn investment programme covering key infrastructure projects across the city.
To support the transformation plans, Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) has embarked upon an ambitious event-hosting strategy in partnership with the city.
In 2017 alone, Queensland, through the work of TEQ in partnership with various local administrations, hosted numerous high-value events, including the Total BWF Sudirman Cup on the Gold Coast, the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens and the spectacular
WBO Welterweight Championship bout between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
In 2018, the portfolio keeps growing with the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and the FAI World Parachuting Championships taking place on the Gold Coast.
Domestically, the Gold Coast has supported dozens of state and national championships in recent years, including the Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercars race, Australian PGA Championship, Australian Surf Life Saving Titles, Gold Coast Airport Marathon and Magic Millions Racing Carnival.
The packed schedule, culminating in this year’s Commonwealth Games, has also given locals – and local businesses – a taste for sports events. Ahead of the 2018 multi-sport event, the local small-business community engaged in initiatives designed to boost their role in the successful delivery of the Games, while 15,000 enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers signed up.
As a hub of activity, it is no surprise that a number of sporting institutions have opted to make the Gold Coast their home, alongside established teams such as the National Rugby League’s Gold Coast Titans and the Australian Football League’s Gold Coast Suns.
Baseball Australia, V8 Supercars Australia, Skateboarding Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport (representing sprint canoe, triathlon and BMX) all have offices in the city. Moreover, Triathlon Australia, Mountain Bike Australia and FIBA Oceania have all relocated their headquarters to the Gold Coast in recent years.
Dave Beeche, managing director of Ironman Oceania – which operates numerous events in Queensland, including the ITU World Triathlon Series Gold Coast, Cairns Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship and iconic Noosa Triathlon and Multisport Festival – says the modern sports spectacle is just as much about where it is held as it is about the event itself.
“People will choose events based on travelling to great destinations, and one of the strengths of Queensland is that it’s a great year-round destination that is highly aspirational for our customers,” he says.
“So many countries around the world have amazing event cities, but what sets Queensland apart is its natural environment. Stunning landscapes and experiences, its outdoor lifestyle and perfect weather make Queensland and cities such as the Gold Coast an enviable event destination.
“For the events that we deliver, this has a tangible and positive impact on the athlete experience and the bottom line. Great locations draw more participants and, as a result, we’re able to deliver more attractive commercial partnerships and grow our events year-on-year.
“Following the success of the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, we’re working hard to make sure the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on the Gold Coast continues to lift the bar and is a knockout success, and I think Queensland will set us up well for that.”
With major events and sports bodies landing in the thriving east coast city, numerous top organisations are increasingly using the Gold Coast as the perfect training destination.
Football clubs such as Manchester City from England and Villarreal from Spain, as well as England’s rugby league team and the Canadian, Chinese, Japanese and US aquatics teams have all used the city as a pre-event or pre-season training base in recent years.
Sally Pearson, Cameron McEvoy, Mick Fanning and Emma Moffatt also train in the Gold Coast, with top athletes such as these being supported by some of the world’s leading coaches, management and medical staff.
The Gold Coast has also established a reputation as a renowned centre of cutting-edge sports science research.
The city is home to three world-class universities – Bond, Griffith and Southern Cross – each a centre for sporting excellence, offering state-of-the-art testing facilities and clinicians with extensive experience in treating national, international and Olympic-level athletes.
As a hub of elite sports science, as well as events, facilities and athletes, it is easy to see why the Gold Coast was handed the Best Newcomer award in the SportBusiness Ultimate Sports City 2016 awards. It is also obvious to see why the 2018 Commonwealth Games merely represents a beginning for a city on the rise.