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Emma Moffatt

Gold Coast cements reputation as world-class sporting destination

Emily Toxward | December 2016

With its enviable climate, a vast array of air travel options and an attractive cost of living compared to other major cities, the Gold Coast is the chosen home for the headquarters of an array of national sport clubs and organisations.

Triathlon Australia, Mountain Bike Australia and FIBA Oceania have all relocated their bases to the city in the past year, while Surfing Australia’s headquarters is situated in the beachside mecca of Coolangatta.

Baseball Australia is also one of many high-profile organisations that chose the Gold Coast to be its home, and BMX Australia plans to follow suit next year with a top-notch facility at Reedy Creek set to be the new home of its head office.

Despite fierce competition from other states and cities, all vying for the lucrative strategic spinoffs that come from being the home base of international sporting organisations, the city has reigned supreme.

Dozens of sporting codes have handpicked the Gold Coast in the lead-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, helping the city to cement its reputation as a leading sporting destination.

We Are Gold Coast spoke to four organisations about their decision to set up their headquarters on the Gold Coast and asked what set the city above and apart from others in Australia.

FIBA Oceania – based in Southport

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Oceania executive director David Crocker says there were many factors that helped the organisation pick the Gold Coast as the new home of its Oceania regional office.

Before the regional hub was officially opened in August last year by Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and FIBA’s World President Horacio Muratore, it was based in Canberra.

“The Gold Coast offers greater options and ease for our national federations to visit our regional hub than previous locations,” says Crocker.

“It also offers a greater ability for FIBA staff to visit national federations throughout the Oceania region.”

He adds that the city was an economically viable option and offered an attractive cost of living for employees.

“Another reason FIBA chose the Gold Coast was the level of potential strategic partnerships that have been and could be formed,” he says.

“The Gold Coast business sector is very progressive and open to new and evolving partnerships.”

“FIBA was able to gain support from the City of Gold Coast’s Sports Attraction program. This support really helped us with our relocation and is an effective and smart policy.”

Crocker says the Gold Coast was an even more attractive location because it would play host to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“We have found the facilities on the Gold Coast to be very impressive,” he says.

“This area is such an iconic part of Australia filled with many amazing facilities. With the Commonwealth Games in 2018, we are seeing a boost in the number of quality facilities on the Gold Coast.”

Meanwhile, FIBA recently hosted its annual regional youth championships on the iconic Surfers Paradise Beach and just concluded its first ever Pacific Youth Leaders Basketball Camp.

The camp, held on the Gold Coast from September 2 to 11, saw FIBA in Oceania bring together the Pacific’s best emerging talent between the ages of 17 to 20 to participate in a 10-day elite basketball and youth development camp.

The city was also host to the exciting FIBA Women’s Empowerment Program; where eight prominent females from national basketball federations were trained and supported to enhance their leadership, governance and public speaking skills.

Earlier this year more than 50 delegates from across 22 nations flew to the Gold Coast for the 2016 FIBA Oceania regional congress at the Mantra Legends Hotel in Surfers Paradise.

“The purpose of this congress was to review the past two years of activities as well as aid collaboration between the Oceania nations and discuss future strategy for basketball, competitions, development, coaching and refereeing in the region,” says Crocker.

Mountain Bike Australia – based at Bond University in Varsity Lakes

One of the fastest growing sports in Australia, mountain biking brings significant economic and health benefits to a region, says Mountain Bike Australia’s (MTBA) operations manager Denise Cox.

“Membership of MTBA has increased by 18 per cent in the past 12 months and there has been an increase of 70 per cent on recreational membership. The number of clubs affiliated with MTBA has also increased in the past 12 months,” says Cox.

“From a ‘places to ride’ perspective, the past 12 months has seen an increase in the number of regions striving to become the next mountain bike destination.”

Last October is when MTBA relocated to Bond University, leaving an office it shared with Cycling Australia in Sydney.

Cox says the organisation investigated a number of regions within Australia to assist in determining the best location for it to establish its own headquarters. It considered a number of factors such as support from key stakeholders such as local government authorities.

Other considerations included a climate and lifestyle conducive to year-round mountain biking, well-connected air travel options, popularity as a destination for both national and international visitors, and the financial implications of relocating.

Cox says the Gold Coast had the potential to expand its riding opportunities to attract more visitors to the region for the purpose of mountain biking. She says the Nerang State Forest and National Park was a very popular destination for local and visiting mountain bike riders.

“This popularity will increase with the venue to host the mountain bike competition of the Commonwealth Games and the addition of new trails for this purpose,” she says.

“With these new trails included as part of the Games legacy, the Gold Coast could reap the benefits of additional visitors to the region.”

BMX Australia – plans to build centre of excellence at Reedy Creek late 2017

It has taken years for BMX Australia (BMXA) to find the optimum Australian city for its centre of excellence and head office says president Barry Knight.

“We were looking for the all-around best location to give our athletes the biggest benefit,” he says.

“The Gold Coast ticked a lot of boxes, and one of those was the climate. All year round there are really no extremes. It isn’t as cold as places like Sydney and Melbourne in winter, and while summer is hot, it isn’t extreme.

“We also took into consideration riders who are in academies that may move to the Gold Coast. It is a location where the cost of living is reasonable and there are good opportunities for athletes to find work, particularly part-time work that fits in with their training schedules.

“However, for those that do not live here, it means that the cost of visiting and paying for accommodation for BMXA or an athlete that visits of their own accord is much cheaper than many of Australia’s major cities.”

Knight says the decision to move the headquarters to where the organisation had its centre of excellence was something that was put forward by the City of Gold Coast to BMXA.

“The decision was also made easier by a study they did of the types of sports they would like in the area, and BMX was among the top ranking sports. So we knew there was some good support here from the outset,” she says.

“Having Bond University close by was also another attraction. I believe we have great synergies that we can look to enhance with them.

“There’s also a good chance to run a schools program and introduce potential new athletes to the sport. As the Reedy Creek site will not be another club, it can be a way for us to attract new riders and then point them towards the local clubs to try and bolster their numbers.”

Triathlon Australia – based in Robina

Former elite athlete and chief executive of Triathlon Australia (TA) Miles Stewart is a born and bred Gold Coaster and says it makes sense to bring TA’s head office to the city.

“The Gold Coast has long been the hub of elite triathletes to train,” says Stewart.

“Both Australians and many international teams base themselves here from November to April each year. The climate and facilities are world class.

“The city is renowned to have the most world-class facilities in the world and that reputation is set to expand with new developments ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2018.”

Stewart adds that the Gold Coast was ranked in the top five ideal destinations to train and a reflection of the many international squads that made the city their summer base. He says most of TA’s high performance elite squads; under-23, juniors and elite, were all based on the Gold Coast.

“The city has also bred Olympic, Commonwealth and world champion’s like Emma Snowsill, Emma Moffatt, Brad Kahlefeldt and Loretta Harrop, just to name a few.”

In 2017 the Gold Coast will host the second round of the 2017 World Triathlon Series and in 2018 the World Championship Grand Final along with the Commonwealth Games.

Stewart says while triathlon was still a relatively young sport by other mainstream sport, there has been a year-on-year participation increase, with one of the points of difference being competitors ranged in age from 7 to 80 plus.

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