Raincheck on ‘Biddies’ gathering
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
I STILL GET GOOSE BUMPS WHEN I THINK ABOUT IT.
GOLDOC CEO MARK PETERS
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.”