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Mackay's sporting chance to diversify its economy

This makes venues like the arena even more critical to local communities in helping to bolster community connections and driving wellbeing through sports participation which has long been associated with building culture.”

The new Great Barrier Reef Arena, picture supplied by Paynters

For many Australians, sport is a part of everyday life. My family has spent many weekends at the local soccer, basketball, and hockey clubs where we connect with our community and teach our children the values of dedication, teamwork, and determination.


The enriching shared experiences and connections sport brings, especially to people in regional Australia, wouldn’t be possible without continued investment in local sporting clubs.


North Queensland residents in Mackay will soon enjoy the new Great Barrier Reef Arena, opening this month. The facility will host events including Australian Football League games, cricket matches and concerts.


But the story behind the construction is a community one too with the crucial involvement of a non-profit organisation, Harrup Park Country Club.


Harrup Park began construction in September 2021 and has built an arena with a capacity of 10,000 people for sport, 20,000 people for concerts, new player facilities and a media and broadcast centre.


The local community – benefitting from a fast-growing population, strong small business, and tourism – will benefit further by attracting more of Australia’s sporting events to the region.


"Mackay has a rich history of sport,” says Great Barrier Reef Arena General Manager Adrian Young. “Across every code, we’ve had athletes come out of Mackay and be champions at a national and international level. This facility and our club is built by the community, for the community. Everything we try to achieve and everything we do is for our community in our region.”



The dream to build the arena became a reality when the Queensland and Federal Governments contributed $10 million apiece to kickstart the project. The club also secured $4 million in funding from ANZ towards its construction.


Queensland’s regions are ripe for investment. The state has a consistent record of growing faster than the national average and that growth brings significant opportunity across many sectors including renewable energy, agriculture and tourism.


This is further supported by people moving to the sunshine state with Queensland recording the nation's highest interstate migration rate, with more than 46,000 new residents arriving in the 12-month period to 30 September 2022.


A population made up of many new residents means venues like this arena help bolster community connections, culture and tourism opportunities. This will also have flow on effects for local hotels, restaurants and other tourism operators.


As a bank, we look forward to seeing the development of sports tourism in Mackay around the Great Barrier Reef Arena and continuing to partner with Harrup Park Country Club to create an environment where the community and its people thrive.


Jenefer Stewart is General Manager, Business Banking at ANZ



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