Raincheck on ‘Bid­dies’ gath­er­ing

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - GOLD COAST 2018 DWAYNE GRANT dwayne.grant@news.com.au


The 2011 cen­sus showed 494,501 peo­ple called the Gold Coast home. By June this year, that num­ber was ex­pected to rise to 572,722.

Gold Coast Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal:

The $1.76 bil­lion ter­tiary hos­pi­tal opened in Septem­ber 2013 af­ter the big­gest planned hos­pi­tal move in Aus­tralian his­tory.

The first stage of the city-trans­form­ing pub­lic trans­port sys­tem started run­ning be­tween Broad­beach and Grif­fith Uni­ver­sity in July 2014.

The Light Rail: Gold Coast Aquatic Cen­tre:

Af­ter nearly two years and a $41 mil­lion facelift, the re­vamped fa­cil­ity opened to the wa­ter-loving pub­lic on Septem­ber 13, 2014.

Gold Coast Pri­vate Hos­pi­tal:

The hos­pi­tal for­merly known as Al­la­manda opened in Park­wood’s emerg­ing Health and Knowl­edge Precinct in March 2016.

Coomera In­door Sports Cen­tre:

Since com­ple­tion in Au­gust 2016, the $40m venue has al­ready hosted a myr­iad of ma­jor events and com­mu­nity fix­tures.

Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Cen­tre:

Com­pleted on April 4, ex­actly a year be­fore the Games open­ing cer­e­mony. THEY call them­selves ‘The Old Bid­dies’, a group of 10 or so Gold Coast­ers who share a spe­cial bond that be­comes even more spe­cial when Novem­ber 11 rolls around.

So spe­cial, in fact, they would nor­mally be hav­ing a re­union to­day ex­cept this Novem­ber 11 many are too busy or­gan­is­ing the thing that unites them – the Com­mon­wealth Games.

“We try to get to­gether each year but it’s a bit hec­tic this time,” GOLDOC chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Peters said of the crew that played a key role in win­ning the Com­mon­wealth Games for the city six years ago to­day.

“It’s not a big din­ner or any­thing like that. We just grab as many of us as we can and get to­gether for cof­fee, cake and a smile, and say ‘A lot’s hap­pened since then’.

“There is a bond be­tween all of those who were there ... it’s one of those spe­cial things peo­ple can’t share un­less they were there.

“It was a pretty mag­i­cal time.”

Where they were on Novem­ber 11, 2011 was the Caribbean is­land of St Kitts for the vote to de­cide who would host the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games – the Gold Coast or the Sri Lankan city of Ham­ban­tota.

Hav­ing spent years cre­at­ing a for­mi­da­ble bid book, bid team CEO Peters led a cou­ple of dozen pas­sion­ate Aussies across the world for the fi­nal push to se­cure the Games at a piv­otal point in the city’s his­tory.

With the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis hav­ing rocked the city’s con­fi­dence, the Games was seen as the cir­cuit breaker so des­per­ately needed to in­ject a re­newed op­ti­mism into the city.

“That’s why it was im­por­tant for us to win,” re­calls Peters, a for­mer Aus­tralian Sports Com­mis­sion CEO.

“The likes of Jupiters (Ho­tel & Casino, now The Star) said if we won, they’d



build the ex­tra tower and do the up­grade … we had to win to give con­fi­dence back to the city.”

And win they did, with out­go­ing Com­mon­wealth Games pres­i­dent Michael Fen­nell say­ing the two words so many wanted to hear – “Gold Coast.”

“No mat­ter how con­fi­dent you might be, you want to hear those words come out of the pres­i­dent’s mouth,” Peters says. “There are al­ways those but­ter­flies and it was a spe­cial mo­ment over there, but I al­ways love see­ing the video of the 6000 or so peo­ple at the Broad­wa­ter Park­lands jump­ing in the air when they heard our name read out.

“I still get goose bumps when I think about it.”

The fact Peters con­tin­ues to drive the city’s Games dream is some­thing of a dream it­self.

Of the high-pro­file names by his side in St Kitts, Anna Bligh is long gone as pre­mier, Mark Stock­well was re­placed as Games chair­man (with his re­place­ment Nigel Chamier sub­se­quently re­placed) and then mayor Ron Clarke not only re­tired from pol­i­tics but died be­fore get­ting to see the Games held in the city he loved.

Of his Games longevity, Peters says: “My phi­los­o­phy through life is all you can do is give it your best shot, be hon­est and things will work out or they won’t. There are lots of mov­ing pieces in these things and I’m re­ally pleased to be here.”

As for fu­ture re­unions of ‘The Old Bid­dies’?

“I did get an email say­ing ‘Any chance we can get to­gether on Satur­day?’ … (but) we’re all crazily busy,” he says be­fore rat­tling off a week­end over­flow­ing with Games com­mit­ments.

“We might have to leave it un­til the end of next week.”

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