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Melbourne facilities’ renaming heralds the rise of Sports Hubs

Melbourne facilities’ renaming heralds the rise of Sports Hubs
July 16, 2011

Victoria's State Sport Centres Trust (SSCT) has released a strategic direction and branding for its newly formed Melbourne Sports Hub. The Hub encompasses three of the world's leading multi-purpose sporting facilities for community and elite; the Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre (MSAC), the State Netball Hockey Centre (SNHC), Lakeside Stadium along with the MSAC Institute of Training, a specialist training institute for the sport and recreation industry.

It has hosted the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 2007 FINA World Swimming Championships, and the 2009 Champions Hockey Trophy as well as attracting over two million people annually to participate in community recreation activities.

The SSCT's vision is to develop an innovative sports 'hub' that provides a diverse range of programs and events for international, national and state sporting groups as well as serving the Victorian sporting and recreational community. The Hub operates under the philosophy of 'developing champions in life' through sport, education and training, a philosophy embodied by staff and shared through the membership.

With the inclusion of the recently redeveloped Lakeside Stadium, the Melbourne Sports Hub aims to attract in excess of 2.3 million patrons per annum by 2013 and is seen worldwide as a model that embodies legacy for all, where both community and elite can participate and benefit equally.

Currently the Melbourne Sports Hub boasts over 13,000 members and houses 32 sporting associations, making it the one of the most diverse training activity centres in Australia.

SSCT Chief Executive Simon Weatherill explains that "a focus of the Hub will be to engage with all stakeholders on their vision for the future of their sports as well as developing and sustaining the sporting infrastructure that is required for their operation."

The Melbourne Sports Hub provides the focal point in Victoria for Olympic accredited sports associations. Nowhere in Australia boasts an array of multi-purpose sporting facilities for community and elite use.

Members of the Melbourne Sports Hub will further benefit through; multi-facility access and increased membership options across MSAC, SNHC and Lakeside Stadium; further development of digital services and online presence including an online Sports Hub, Social Media services; expansion of community activities such as TeamMSAC, training groups and Member Performance forums; rewards and discounts through an established Membership Alliance Program; and the introduction of the MSAC FlowRider.

Set to open in mid-November 2011, the Melbourne Sports Hub's Double FlowRider to Victoria is sure to create great excitement, adding to the experience of members and patrons and providing opportunities to the Victorian public of all ages to experience surfing in a fun, relaxed and safe environment.

The MSAC FlowRider will be placed in the prime location alongside the MSAC Outdoor Pool in Albert Park and will provide options for the community, families, school groups and corporate functions.

The attraction operates as a stationary wave form with a thin sheet of water flowing over. The resulting 'wave' permits riders to drop in, shape a turn, and ride up the wave surface, replicating the manoeuvres of other board sports.

Weatherill explains that "flowriding is not just a ride, it is a sport… a fusion of board sports with the look of surfing, the ride of snowboarding, the tricks of skateboarding and boards derived from wakeboarding. Worldwide the sport has attracted the best board riders from different genres, applying their skills to cross pollinate into flowboarding. "

Designed for all age groups and skill levels, the MSAC FlowRider's waveform is a proprietary composite membrane ride surface that is designed to absorb the energy of impacts.

As Weatherill adds "flowboarders may wipe out, but they'll get back up again and again and again."

The use of the term 'sports hub' is an emerging trend.

First used in Singapore, to describe the multi-facility sports precinct in Kalang, including the city's new 55,000-capacity National Stadium; indoor aquatic and leisure facility and 3,000-capacity multi-purpose indoor arena; the term has also been used to brand the University of Wollongong's new Recreation and Aquatic Centre.

Most recently South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak pledged that Pyeongchang's would become a winter sports hub for all of Asia if its bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics was successful – which it was after the International Olympic Committee's recent vote in Durban, South Africa.

Prior to the IOC's vote, President Lee explained "if we win the bid it is not just about Korea. It is our vision, our aspiration of becoming a mecca for winter sports. "

Clearly, the concept of sports hub as an identifier for sport, recreation and entertainment precincts is gaining increasing currency.

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