(Australian Associated Press)
The Gold Coast City Council is on track to host the Commonwealth Games ahead of the opening ceremony on April 4, 2018.
“I can assure everyone we are games ready, we’re on time, on budget,” Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate says.
“They’re all completed,” he says of the venues.
Under a deal with the Queensland Government and Commonwealth Games authorities, the council agreed to supply the buildings or sporting grounds renovated or built to Commonwealth Games standards.
Additional fixtures such as temporary seating and lighting will be installed by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) in the coming months. All of the council venues are now ready for those additions to be installed. After the games, these temporary facilities will be stripped out and the venues returned to community use.
“Bumping in” temporary facilities is part of the council’s plan to reduce white elephant venues and avoid having to replace stadiums in the future because they are the wrong shape or hold too many seats – a problem Sydney is now facing with the round 2000 Olympic stadium.
The Gold Coast Aquatic centre, for example, has a permanent seating capacity of 1,000. Temporary seating brought in for the Commonwealth Games will expand capacity to 12,500 seats. Post games, the pool will be returned to the community. Temporary seating can be fitted and removed in the case of large events.
Mayor Tate says the use of temporary facilities extends the use of the venues, reduces maintenance costs and ensures the future benefit of hosting the Commonwealth Games games goes to the Gold Coast community, not just big business.
The $40 million Coomera Indoor Sports centre, the venue for gymnastics and netball, is one new building that has been earmarked for community use. Built in an area that lacked sporting facilities, Coomera is the “centrepiece for the transformation of the northern Gold Coast into a significant elite and community sports precinct” according to the council website. Construction commenced in early 2015. The Centre was officially opened on 5 August 2016.
Now, on any given day, Coomera is packed with teenagers playing basketball and preschoolers practising gymnastics.
“We’re running recreational gymnastics classes at the moment, we also have 3G classes (like parkour),” says Gold Coast Director of Gymnastics Coaching Lee McDermott.
McDermott, a former Olympian who moved to the Gold Coast to train future gymnastic stars, has two gymnastics centres on the coast – one at Miami and one at Coomera.
In the next few months, GOLDOC will remove McDermott’s gymnastics equipment and install the Commonwealth Games facilities. Basketball hoops will be replaced with netball posts – temporarily. Post games, Coomera will return to community use. The venues facilities and function rooms are available for community hire for a small fee creating a constant stream of revenue.
Each Gold Coast council venue had to pass an economic viability test, Tate says. Future use was high on the list of criteria. The venue had to have a way to earn money after the athletes were gone.
As a result, up to 80 per cent of the council venues chosen were pre-existing. The renovated venues are now attracting events to the Gold Coast that previously would not have been attainable.
The Broadbeach bowls club, renovated at a cost of $4.95 million and completed in 2016, for example, hosted the World Junior Championships that year. In 2019 the club has already been booked for the Asia Pacific Championships and it will host the World Bowls Championships in 2020.
There’s little chance of the “white elephant” sites, Tate says.
“Post the games it is action packed we have 800 events booked for the 12 months post-Commonwealth Games, we have major projects happening,” he says.
Sport was not the only future use considered by the council when assessing future economic benefits.
The Commonwealth Games athletes village will eventually become housing for hospital and university staff in the Coast’s “Health and Knowledge precinct” next to Griffith University and the Gold Coast Hospital.
Studio 9, which will host the squash competition, has been built as a working sound studio for Village Roadshow. Four other existing sound stages on the production lot are currently being fitted with temporary courts for table tennis and boxing.
Film studios make great games venues. They can be transformed easily into any scene and they already have equipment installed for cameras and sound.
“It’s the first time that a soundstage has been used for games, for me to have it on the world stage is a fantastic opportunity for us,” Lynne Benzie, President of Village Roadshow Australia says.
Benzie says the addition of Studio 9 now means the Gold Coast film studios have the biggest footprint of any film studio in the Southern Hemisphere – a massive selling point for future films. The studio has already been used in the production of blockbusters Thor: Ragnarok and Aquaman.
The cost for Studio 9 was shared between Village Roadshow and GC2018. Benzie says the economic benefits it will bring the Gold Coast will reach into the billions.
People who come here to work on films come for months, not weeks, Benzie says. They often bring their families, there’s a lot of economic benefits to investing in film.
FACT BOX: GAMES VENUES
Broadbeach Bowls club Sports: Lawn Bowls A $4.95 million facelift was completed in June 2016. The club hosted the World Junior Championships in 2016. It will host the Asia Pacific Championships in 2019 and the World Bowls Championships in 2020.
Coomera Indoor Sports Centre Sports: Gymnastics, Netball finals A $40 million new build opened in 2016. The venue has already hosted the Johnny Warren State Futsal Championships, the Karate World Championships and the International Netball Championships. It is used for daily community sport and gymnastics training.
Gold Coast Aquatic Centre Sports: Swimming, Diving Refurbishment of existing council-owned pool at Southport was finished in 2014 at a cost of $41 million. Includes permanent seating for 1000 people but will be expanded to seat 12500 spectators during the games. The venue hosted the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and the Fina Diving World Cup. Also open for daily community use with professional gym and dry dive facilities.
Gold Coast Cycle Centre/Nerang Mountain Bike Trails Sports: Mountain Biking Built at a cost of $3.2 million the mountain bike trails opened in January 2017. The Cycle Centre underwent an upgrade including construction of a new amenities block, changerooms fit out and car park. The venues are used for the annual Kokoda Challenge and the bi-annual University Games.
Village Roadshow Studios – Studio 9 Sports: Squash, Boxing, Table Tennis This new build was a collaboration between the City of Gold Coast, the Queensland Government and Village Roadshow. Sound Stage 9 is the largest sound stage in the Southern Hemisphere. The venue has already been used for filming Thor: Ragnorok and Aquaman. It will be converted to a sports venue for the duration of the games. Post games it will revert back to film industry use. Existing sound stages will also be converted for sports use.
Gold Coast Hockey centre Sports: Hockey Refurbishment of existing grounds at Labrador came at a cost of $16.5 million field re-opened in June 2017 and has been in regular use.
Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre Sports: Badminton, Weightlifting, Wrestling, Para Powerlifting, Opening and closing ceremonies. Multi-purpose community facility opened in early 2017 and comprises two indoor halls connected by a pedestrian plaza.
AAP, in collaboration with the City of Gold Coast and Gold Coast Tourism, is publishing a range of newsworthy content in the lead-up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.