THE look on Sunshine Coast Stingrays captain Gareth Clouston’s face said it all as he walked into the Sunshine Coast Stadium dressing rooms for the first time.
The fresh carpet, private cubicles, single showers and shining mirrors are a far cry from the demountables Coast sports people are used to.
The media got a sneak peak at the Coast’s premier sports facility yesterday and it was quite impressive. The modern architecture is eye-catching and the view from the top of the grandstand is amazing.
Ground staff were marking the dew-lined grass and there was a sense that something special had finally come together.
Councillor Keryn Jones and Stockland Park managing director John Kelly have worked tirelessly on the development and are rightly chuffed about it opening its gates for the first time on Friday for the Coast to have a look.
“In terms of the facilities for players, officials, media, corporate boxes, function rooms, it’s up there with the best in Queensland,” Jones proudly said.
“We have 1066 seats, some have more. But the important part is it has the ability to be built on to.”
Don’t let the small capacity fool you. There’s a lot of room for improvement. The 1066 figure is just the covered grandstand seating.
Temporary tiers allow for double that and the mounds at the ends of the field are perfect for a Sunday afternoon at the footy.
The stadium will be launched on Friday when the public are welcome to attend for free. The next day, the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles host Easts.
But the work hasn’t finished. It’s really only just started in the scheme of putting Sunshine Coast sport on the national stage.
“Once this is done and we ground it we’ll be moving forward ... it would be nice to see some assistance from the State Government, that’s for sure,” Jones said.
The test now will be whether a better stadium draws bigger crowds for our regional teams.
Coast sport is struggling financially at the moment and one of the big questions asked was how would the Sea Eagles, Stingrays and Fire deal with the increased costs of using the stadium. Council will foot the bill for at least the next 12 months of the stadium’s operations. After that, it will be assessed how the clubs are travelling financially.
Each club will organise its own catering arrangements for match day so don’t expect a bucket of chips to cost the same amount every time you’re there.
The stadium is also without a naming rights sponsor. Kelly estimated an organisation would need to come up with somewhere around $200,000 for that privillege.
“These facilities never make a profit. There’s no stadium in Australia that makes a profit,” he said.
“That’s just the nature of community facilities. We’re going to run it on a shoestring but at the same time provide a quality service.
“The public’s been saying they want a much bigger facility and we’re providing the platform, that bigger facility when a national team looks like coming here.”
The stadium’s gates will open at 4.30pm on Friday for the first time and you’re encouraged to get there early to snag a seat for the entertainment.
It’s worth a look.
SUNSHINE COAST STADIUM
Opening – Friday, June 3
All access tours, meet the players, junior games, kids’ festival, live music.
Entry from Sportsman’s Parade, Bokarina, parking Nicklin Way
Sunshine Coast Daily, 1st June 2011