By Ryan Behrendorff
Sunshine Coast Council says better infrastructure is needed at Sunshine Coast Stadium to attract higher-profile sporting events to the region.
The region missed out on hosting rights for an NRL regular season match in 2018 despite a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Kawana venue, which was completed earlier this year.
Tourism, Sport and Major Events Portfolio Councillor Jason O’Pray said Council was willing to invest significant amounts of money into the stadium’s development to guarantee the region a regular season game by 2020.
“The grandstand as it sits right now, we would like to see that developed as well so another two wings on the grandstand put into place,” he said.
Both Cr O’Pray and Sunshine Coast Stadium manager Simon Ball agreed that the current lighting facilities also remain one of the obstacles to the stadium successfully hosting a larger event.
“A significant lighting upgrade is required to have televised games played out of the stadium for all codes,” Mr Ball said.
But the high cost of this development means Mr Ball is seeking to host more pre-season trials at the stadium in the short-term.
“This is being considered for the future developments but now we are focused on pre-season games for all codes should these opportunities arise,” he said.
Cr O’Pray is hoping the close affiliation between the Sunshine Coast Falcons and Melbourne Storm rugby league clubs will enhance the prospects of the region being granted a regular season game.
“The Falcons of course have a wonderful relationship with the Melbourne Storm and that would probably be our number one team to host an NRL game here on the Sunshine Coast as a home game,” he said.
“The CEO of Melbourne Storm has got a wonderful relationship with our (Council) staff as well so they talk and communicate regularly.
“Council negotiate very strongly and very successfully with these sporting teams and sporting bodies to bring big spectacles and games.
“We played a very big role creating the Sunshine Coast Lightning netball team and we’ll be doing the same thing with the development of NRL and Melbourne Storm with the U20s being based here in recent years.”
Sunshine Coast Stadium is set to host two pre-season NRL matches and another for Super Rugby following its successful staging of an NRL trial in February, attended by a record crowd of 10,169.
Mr Ball said the stadium redevelopment has enhanced the fan experience.
“The boutique venue now has you sitting close to the action and has great vantage points to view any of the sports,” he said.
Cr O’Pray also said he was excited about the upcoming fixtures being played at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
“We spent $2.5 million on developing the hill and it’s one of the greatest hills in the country now,” he said.
“Players and spectators love it and I’m sure it will be no different when five new teams visit next year.”