RECORD CROWD: Charni Bloxsom, Ella Anderson, Keyra Smith and Grace Harris after Brisbane Heat's win over Strikers.
RECORD CROWD: Charni Bloxsom, Ella Anderson, Keyra Smith and Grace Harris after Brisbane Heat's win over Strikers. Aidan Cureton

Big benefits from bash as 5600 boost economy

THE floodgates could open on Mackay's sporting landscape after a record women's Big Bash League crowd flocked through Harrup Park Country Club on Saturday night.

Over 5600 fanatics turned out in force to witness the Brisbane Heat cruise to victory over the Adelaide Strikers at Great Barrier Reef Arena in what was the highest standalone WBBL match turnout in the cricket competition's history.

With prospective contests - including men's Big Bash pre-season fixtures, the inter-state JLT one-day competition and potential warm-up games for next year's T20 World Cup - to be played around the country, Harrup Park general manager Matt Cielens said there were many hosting opportunities for the region.

He said the weekend's showcase illustrated the passion and support the community had for events of this nature.

"I think the upside of the events we're hosting is Mackay is getting out and supporting them,” MrCielens said.

"That's the key thing; showing that if these sporting bodies bring these events to the region, and regional areas especially, the community really get behind it.”

Mr Cielens said decisions to provide Mackay with hosting rights are out of their hands, however the expected development of Great Barrier Reef Arena would enable greater chances to lure major sporting events to Mackay.

"From our conversations with Cricket Australia and Queensland Cricket - they had a number of their board up to watch the games on Saturday and Sunday - there's some really positive conversations about more scheduled events in the forthcoming year, and the same conversations we're having with the AFL,” he said.

"The upside for everyone is great when we have these events, so we're obviously continuing to push for the development of the facilities to help meet the available content that is coming in future years.

"With our Great Barrier Reef Arena project proposal, and the funding we've got from the Regional Growth Fund, if we're successful in getting that first stage across the line that will only make it easier to host these events.”

The economic and tourism benefits events bring to the region was demonstrated by the hectic weekend experienced by Oaks Carlyle, who accommodated the Strikers.

Oaks Carlyle guest service agent Olivia Tass said the rooms were booked out four weeks in advance leading up to the spectacle, and the benefits to tourism were widespread.

"There were a few young girls here to play cricket, so standing in the elevator with the Strikers players was kind of like (meeting) their role models; it was really good to have them here,” MsTass said.

"I think it's had a huge impact...

"It attracts a lot of people and we are always booked out for quite a period of time.

"A lot of teams come up from all over Australia.

"It's really good for Mackay tourism.”

Mr Cielens said the income from the flights, enhanced business revenue and dining options, all benefited the Mackay region's economy.

"There's all this flow-on effect for not just tourism destinations, but food and beverage, accommodation and other associated businesses,” he said.

"You've then got the increased awareness of what's in Mackay and what the region is about from people who have come from Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane - they've all seen Mackay turn on a great weekend.”



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