GRAND PLANS FOR SPORTSPARK
Everybody wants to come to Airlie for the weekend ...
THE Whitsunday Sportspark is there to provide for the community.
It is the only non-school playing field for the communities of Jubilee Pocket, Airlie Beach and Cannonvale and has a rich history of offering itself as a community hub.
It member clubs include the Whitsunday Raiders Rugby Union Club, the Whitsunday Sea Eagles, the Whitsunday Football Club, the Whitsunday Touch Association and the Whitsunday Netball Association.
Since taking over as the park secretary, Justin Butler has seen the park really take advantage of every possible revenue-raising opportunity.
Including hosting one-off sporting events such as the Queensland Police Rugby League carnivals, fight nights and North Queensland AFL junior championships.
The sportspark needs to raise revenue through one-off usages to minimise the cost to its member clubs.
In accordance with this commitment to players that use its facilities the Whitsunday Sportspark has also taken on corporate sponsorship.
In 2012 Green Energy Technology installed solar panels without any cost to the park.
Huge savings in power bills are now passed on to members.
Other major sponsors of the park include Hilliery Quarries and RPS.
RPS Surveys have provided significant ongoing in kind surveying work to the Whitsunday Sportspark, which has helped to develop a strategic vision.
Mr Butler said the park was now looking at sport tourism to attract people to the Whitsundays.
“People don’t realise how many people (the sportspark) brings to town,” he said.
“If rugby, soccer, AFL are playing one of the Mackay sides at home there could be A Grade, Reserve grade, and three junior divisions. That is well over 100 people.
“And a good chunk of them are often going to stay the night.
“Everybody wants to come to Airlie for the weekend and there is their excuse.”
The Whitsunday Sportspark was leased by Whitsunday Regional Council to the committee for 20 years in 1997.
Mr Butler said the past 10 years had been a transitional period where management of the park’s facilities had been taken on by the park itself.
But the council does still contribute to the park through a grant system.
“Council has got a new grants policy in place which is very fair, very transparent and very good,” Mr Butler said.
“We are certainly happy with the $20,000 a year we received in council grants.”
The committee of the club last week outlined a development proposal that plans to drive sport in the Whitsundays for the next five to seven years.
The biggest problem currently facing the park is over use.
Mr Butler said when the development was complete, instead of running at 225% carrying capacity the fields would be brought back to something more manageable on completion of the expansion.
BIG DREAMS: Whitsunday Touch's Bernard Woods, Whitsunday Sportspark president Steve Tween, Whitsunday Netball Association vice-president Shannon Lorraway, Whitsunday Sportspark secretary Justin Butler and Whitsunday Football Club manager Anthony Nobilia are looking to the future of the park.