A CHANGING of the guard has occurred at the Coffs Harbour City Council Sports Unit, with Ben Payne taking over as manager from Craig Gibson.
Payne has moved from Melbourne and brings a long history of working in the sports industry.
"I'm loving the challenge already," Payne said.
"It's a change of life and a change of pace.
"I have worked at a lot of health and recreation centres, so the sports caper is nothing new to me."
While Payne is keen to continue the Sports Unit's tradition of attracting elite sporting events to the area, he is also focussed on supporting the grass roots level.
"Obviously we want to keep attracting the big events to hang our hat on, but we also need to support regional sport as well," he said.
Gibson has left the Sports Unit to work at a sports marketing firm, but will remain in town.
He said he was confident that sport in Coffs Harbour will continue to prosper, especially after Council recently adopted the Sports Unit's strategic plan, which aims at developing and maintaining Coffs Harbour's sporting industry at all levels from local to elite events.
"Sport is a major economic driver for the city, it generates between $20-30million each year for the local economy," he said.
Gibson said part of the strategic plan's aim is to attract a signature event for Coffs Harbour, similar to the Bathurst 1000 or Noosa Triathlon.
"It is too early to say what the event will be, but there are some good people behind it," Gibson said.
"But we need the support of the business community and local community.
"You pay a lot to get these events, so we have got to mitigate the costs.
"We need support from the people who are going to benefit.
"We seem to get support from the same people all the time, we need to spread the load."