There are leaders and visionaries, and in Chief Executive Mark Peters the 2018 Commonwealth Games has both in one man.
A former sports administrator and Australian baseball captain who headed up the Australian Sports Commission for a decade and served as president of Baseball Australia and executive member of the International Baseball Federation, he played a key role in securing the Games for the Gold Coast.
With management experience in tourism, he has long been an advocate for the region on the world stage as a host destination for major sporting teams and events.
Peters believes the Commonwealth Games will deliver a decade worth of opportunity which could define the Gold Coast’s future.
Peters said a lot of hard work has gone into promoting the region including the spectacular Hinterland, theme parks and more recently the many opportunities the Commonwealth Games infrastructure development will deliver.
“What has excited me recently has been the city’s focus on things like the arts and culture and those elements that will make it the great location it was always destined to be,” he said.
Legacy considerations were paramount during the planning and construction phase of Commonwealth Games infrastructure ensuring future opportunities for business, trade, education, tourism and events.
Peters is confident the Games will drive the diversification of the Gold Coast’s economy which has traditionally been reliant on the boom-or-bust cycle of tourism and construction.
Education is evolving as another key economic stimulus, while the Health and Knowledge Precinct will present future opportunities for growth in medical research.
“There has been tremendous investment into transport infrastructure which has made a major difference to preparation for the Commonwealth Games,” Peters said.
The Athletes Village, adjacent to Griffith University, the Gold Coast University Hospital and Gold Coast Private Hospital, will have links to light rail and the emerging health and knowledge precinct.
“We have seen Griffith, Bond and Southern Cross Universities – the entire education sector get bigger and bigger over the years which is contributing to the economy,” he said.
Another legacy of the Commonwealth Games will be the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre which will allow professional sporting teams from the Asian region to consider the Gold Coast as a training location in preference to places like Hawaii and Guam during their winter seasons.
“We used to get the Japanese baseball team to train here in January and February when they were snowed in at home. But because that was also the time when it rained on the Coast we could not offer them an alternative indoor training centre for those situations,” Peters said.
“With the new Carrara centre we now have an indoor facility for sporting teams to do their training in the event of inclement weather.
“There is the SUNS high performance centre which is being developed and they have a progressive administration that has linked up with other professional teams to come and train on the Gold Coast.
“There is also a real opportunity in sports tourism.”
With the Gold Coast’s sprawling lay-out, the legacy of an improved light rail lay-out will benefit resident for years to come.
“This is a city with a future – there is a real buzz which has been generated around major events and a city that is defining itself differently into the future,” Peters said.
“We have to keep promoting who we are, where we are and what we stand for. Winning the Commonwealth Games was just part of the Gold Coast gaining its confidence again.
“With all the planning and investment that is taking place we will make this city great.”
Peters is confident diversification will mean there will be more jobs for our children to stay on the Gold Coast.
“To have more options for our kids to start their careers, or opportunities for them to come back here and progress their careers even further is wonderful,” Peters said.
The Commonwealth Games will be staged between April 4 and 15 with an estimated 7000 athletes and officials expected to attend.
There will be 23 competitions including athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, squash, swimming and triathlon.