New lighting makes BCU International Stadium suitable for all sorts of entertainment.
New lighting makes BCU International Stadium suitable for all sorts of entertainment. Rob Wright

Stadium plan gets green light

I’M just going to go ahead and put it out there.

I like the BCU International Stadium as a place to watch sport.

For this reason I have no issues with the Coffs Harbour City Council trying to find $12 million in funding to expand the grandstand region on the western side of the ground from 936 seats to more than 3000 seats as well as adding a media centre and coaching boxes.

As a place to watch sport, you would need to travel a long way to find a better facility.

Some AFL big-wigs were in Coffs Harbour last week for the NAB Challenge match between Sydney and St Kilda and they were blown away by the facilities.

The new digital TV-standard lights made it possible for the match to be played here.

New facilities will make it possible for more matches to be played here in the future.

I’ve spoken with South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson on several occasions and he has expressed to me a desire to have his club’s on-field ties with the town increase to more than just one trial match each year.

He’s indicated that the match the Rabbitohs play each year on the Central Coast could be moved to Coffs Harbour.

To make that a reality will probably require facilities capable of coping with the media contingent that would attend the game.

Why is it so important?

Didn’t this town host a massive event years ago when the British and Irish Lions played NSW Country?

Yes it did and it was a memorable occasion but that was nearly 10 years ago.

Something needs to be done to continue to attract big sporting events to these parts.

In 2015 Australia and New Zealand will be hosting the ICC World Cup.

If BCU International Stadium is expanded to seat 3000 people, why can’t a World Cup cricket match be played right here?

The last time a cricket World Cup was played in this country the towns of Albury, Ballarat, Mackay and Berri hosted a match.

I went to the match at the Lavington Sports Ground in Albury between England and Zimbabwe and it was a great day.

The Barmy Army was only a small throng in 1992 but they were entertaining.

At least until Eddo Brandes took four wickets and England were beaten.

A great day that many in the region still recall with a broad smile.

That could be us.

Like Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams, the phrase “if you build it, they will come” has to be the mantra.

We now know that I have no worries with chasing funding from sources other than ratepayers to provide a top class facility but if expansion does go ahead, there are two conditions that I would like to have in place.

Firstly, ratepayers need to make sure that all of the funding comes from outside sources.

This is because ratepayers rarely get to (or more to the point, can afford to) use the facility.

I really like the Stadium as a place to play sport. I’ve been on the field to play in AFL and cricket finals as well as over-35s soccer and touch footy.

That makes me a lucky person because not many people actually get the opportunity other than school athletics and over 35s soccer to use it.

If ratepayers used the Stadium more often than they do now I’d have no worries with my money going toward the project but not until the current situation changes funding must come from outside sources.

Full credit to Council here as they stated at a recent meeting when expansion was discussed that funding be found to pay for it.

Secondly, sporting tourism dollars being brought into town is the big attraction for expanding the Stadium and being able to bring big events into town.

My other condition is that those in town who benefit most from sporting tourism make a bigger effort to support local sport.

The BCU International Stadium could become a much greater asset than it already is and that would be a good thing.

If we build it, they will come.



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