Bendigo could become one of Australia’s regional sporting supercentres and attract even more major events, according to a sports marketing expert.
Bendigo has hosted many elite sporting events recently – including a stage of the Herald Sun Tour cycling race, an Australian Opals’ pre-Olympic warm-up match and a Melbourne Vixens’ netball pre-season game.
That’s on top of a stack of junior events, which have brought thousands of people to the region.
Sports Marketing Australia managing director Rick Sleeman believes it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
“There are some really big events on the horizon that Sports Marketing Australia is looking to secure on behalf of (City of Greater Bendigo) council and we hope to have more information on that in the next couple of months,” Sleeman said.
Sleeman has been working with the council for four years, in which time the number of major sporting events in Bendigo has roughly tripled.
“We’ve got 34 regional centres that we’re engaged with around the country to build them into regional sports supercentres and Bendigo is one of those,” Sleeman said.
“It’s fair to say the infrastructure that exists here in Bendigo – if it’s not the best in our regional centres, it’s certainly not far off it – it’s exceptional.”
Bendigo’s sports facilities, plentiful accommodation and transport links make the city an attractive proposition to bring events to central Victoria, Sleeman said.
“One of the key KPI’s for sporting organisations is competitor satisfaction, the competitor satisfaction levels here are fantastic,” he said.
“The chances are you’re going to get them back as a leisure tourist at a later date.”
That’s music to City of Greater Bendigo major events manager Terry Karamaloudis’ ears, with his team focused on bringing events with big economic benefits to Bendigo.
“The major events unit’s agenda is very much about economic impact,” Karamaloudis said. “Rick’s team are selling our product for us.”
A new licensed-team in the region is also under negotiation, Sleeman said.