The urgent need to fully fund the Ballarat Sports & Events Centre has been highlighted in challenges faced by Basketball Ballarat Events Manager Mark Valentine as he prepares for the 46th McDonalds June Long Weekend Tournament.

 This year’s Tournament will bring 6,530 players, coaches, team managers, referees and family members to the city for the three-day event and deliver a minimum two-night stay totalling 13,000 bed nights.

Basketball Ballarat CEO Peter Eddy said that the revival in numbers is a credit to the work done by Valentine to convince teams to stay with our event until we can deliver a quality new venue to be the home of this huge annual event late in 2018.

Event organisers have the challenge of hosting 260 teams in 10 venues across 20 courts for the three-day event. Only 16 teams are from the Ballarat area.

Teams come from across the state from Port Fairy to Westernport Bay, all areas of metropolitan Melbourne and high into the north west of the state.

Mr Valentine was delighted to have Altona Association return with 13 teams after trying another event last year.

Collingwood who has recently secured Government funding for a major facility upgrade has 27 teams attending the Ballarat Tournament.

A mass exodus of teams from what is one of Ballarat’s major event drawcards last year saw only 224 teams compete after a record entry of 271 teams in 2014. Aging facilities spread all over the city was a key reason for the drop off in teams coming to Ballarat last year.

Feedback from teams was that the event offered a lesser value when games are played at remote venues. The loss of a multi court tournament atmosphere for several teams meant that Ballarat was unable to provide the environment they hoped their junior families would experience”.

Ballarat Regional Tourism’s event value analysis of the 2015 tournament was an economic benefit of $1.5M while requiring no funding from the City to deliver this result.

Mr Valentine said that some teams had tried other competing events last year but Ballarat’s event reputation and the regional experiences offered make our Tournament a destination of choice and it continues to deliver big for the city’s accommodation, tourism and retail sectors.

To save and continue to rebuild this event Ballarat desperately needs the extra $10M that the Ballarat Sports & Events Centre requires in Federal Government funding.

Fully funded and developed this facility will retain $4.7M in existing annual economic benefit from all its annual events calendar and allow for growth of another $3.2M in economic benefit per annum.