Ev­ery­body wants to come to Air­lie for the week­end ...

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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