Thousands of local sporting stars will take centre stage at North Queensland Stadium next April, with the venue confirmed to host the 2020 North Queensland Games opening ceremony.
The biennial event, which is the largest regularly run multi-sport event in regional Australia, will be held in Townsville from 10-13 April.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the event will show that Townsville has a winning track record with hosting major sporting events.
“The NQ Games haven’t been held in Townsville since 2014,” Mr Stewart said.
“It’s about time we show Mackay and Cairns how major sporting events should be opened, and where better but the brand-new North Queensland Stadium.
“I’m looking forward to standing with the community to recognise our incredibly talented athletes.
“It’s only fitting that we celebrate them in a stadium built by locals, for locals.”
Minister for Sport Mick de Brenni said the ceremony would be a great opportunity to recognise the region’s top athletes.
“North Queensland Stadium is being built for the whole community, for a wide range of events,” Mr de Brenni said.
“This is an opportunity to fly the flag for the region and particularly support some of our up and comers.
“You never know who the next Libby Trickett, Mitchell Johnson or Nat Cook might be.”
Mr de Brenni said the stadium will host some of the top professional rugby league, rugby union and football players for decades to come.
“But holding the opening ceremony here gives athletes in junior or semi-professional leagues and a broader range of sports the chance for the recognition they deserve too,” he said.
North Queensland Sports Foundation Chair Cr Jessie Richardson said the foundation was working to make 2020 the biggest games yet.
“The 2020 NQ Games will play host to over 3,600 athletes from an anticipated 40 sports, which are likely to include sports such as Athletics, Swimming, Hockey, Netball, BMX, Cycling and Special Olympics,” Cr Richardson said.
“Securing the stadium for the opening ceremony means we can really kick things off with a bang.
“We’re calling on sporting associations across the Townsville, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook and Palm Island areas to host events in Townsville and surrounding regions and take this unique opportunity to showcase our regional sporting communities and our region to the rest of Australia.”
North Queensland Stadium Manager Glenn Arboit said stadium staff were working hard to secure a range of content for the venue.
“We’re really excited about the Elton John concert in February and of course the upcoming North Queensland Cowboys’ season, but it’s great to also have events like this with more of a community focus, that engage a range of people” he said.
“We’re working with community and industry partners to identify ways to ensure the stadium delivers in multiple ways, such as making our function rooms available for hire for cultural and community purposes.”
The 2020 games will be officially launched at Townsville Sports Expo in January.