THE announcement of a Sunshine Coast Stadium upgrade couldn't have come at a better time.
The Sunshine Coast Falcons, fresh off a breakthrough season which exceeded all expectations, will be expected to not only perform once again next season, but to draw a crowd.
There aren't many better ways to spend an afternoon than laying back on a hill with a few mates or the family, picnic blanket out and a cold tinnie in hand watching some sport.
The Coast is maturing, particularly in our sports scene. The creation of our first ever national team in the Sunshine Coast Lightning could be the catalyst we need to kick on and maybe even lock in our own NRL or A-League team.
Sure that's a long way off at the moment and it will take many small steps to get us there, but the establishment of a more cultured, boutique stadium, and in particular the atmosphere it brings with it, will be hugely beneficial to helping that dream one day become a reality.
The council has to be applauded for taking on the challenge and pushing for the project, and the State Government also deserves credit for acknowledging the desire for the improved facility and helping make it a reality.
Crucial to all of this though, no matter how many more sponsors the improvements may bring, how many more trial or proper-season elite sports games, events or gigs it may attract, is up to us, the community.
We must embrace the new facility and the point of difference it offers.
It's not just for sports fans. Outdoor music events are some of the most enjoyable going around and there's even the possibility of family movie nights on the big (36sqm is pretty big) LED screen that'll be constructed as part of the upgrades.
As a kid I remember travelling to Brookvale Oval and watching Manly. Some of my fondest memories are of the crowd packed in on the hill, breathing down the necks of the players. It was exciting and inspiring.
There was also a real sense of community that you don't get at sterile, monolithic, all-enclosed stadiums.
It can't be underestimated how infectious the atmosphere of community footy grounds is for young kids and, given the way technology is starting to overtake us, wouldn't it be great to see our home teams playing in front of thousands of adoring young kids week-in, week-out, rather than having them at home glued to a smart phone?
And what an opportunity for us to develop, attract and keep high-class sporting and musical talent in this region with the added opportunities the venue delivers.
It'd be hard to knock back one of our local sporting teams, be it the Fire or Falcons, if they could offer the chance to ply your trade in front of crowds that were regularly registering in the many thousands.
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