Townsville is only hours away from becoming the first regional city in Australia to host a State of Origin blockbuster.
The State of Origin opener at Queensland Country Bank Stadium was secured by the Palaszczuk Government as part of the state’s economic recovery plan to rebuild the tourism sector.
“Tonight’s the night. It’s Townsville’s time to shine,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“The atmosphere is already building. You only need to look around the city to see that tonight, Townsville will host something special.”
The Premier said State of Origin one would inject $7 million into the local economy with 22,500 room nights booked out at local accommodation providers.
“Jessica Mauboy, Birds of Tokyo and Busby Marou are preparing to play to thousands of fans in Flinders Street,” she said.
“Food and drink vendors are getting ready for a big night’s trade on Flinders Street – the Caxton Street of the North.
“And grounds keepers are putting the finishing touches on the surface at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
“This is exactly why we made the decision to build Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
“The hard work isn’t over. Queensland’s behind Daly Cherry-Evans and the Maroons to get the job done tonight.”
Resources Minister and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said local businesses were already benefitting from the State of Origin.
“Hotels are booked out. Pubs will soon be full. And the phones are ringing hot at tourism businesses throughout North Queensland – with footy fans keen to extend their stay,” Mr Stewart said.
“Time and again we’ve proven that we can safely host major events that deliver strong benefits for local businesses.
“Tonight will be one of the greatest footy spectacles North Queensland has ever seen.”
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said having State of Origin in Townsville was great exposure for the city on a national stage.
“Not only will the people here already be helping the economy but being able to showcase Townsville will benefit the city in the long term too,” Mr Harper said.
Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said seeing Townsville come alive in a sea of maroon was fantastic for the city.
“This has provided a real economic boost to the city and its businesses as we can continue our economic recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic,” Mr Walker said.
Tourism and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Townsville had put in a tremendous effort at short notice to build an event that will be remembered for years to come.
“As Queensland Rugby League’s heartland this is the State of Origin the North deserves,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“Hosting the opener is possible because of Townsville’s world-class stadium which Cowboys Co-captain Johnathon Thurston declared North Queensland deserved after that nail biting, 2015 golden point Grand Final win.
“Tonight’s Origin demonstrates Townsville’s ability to put on a major NRL event that brings an entire region together.
“For that reason alone, Townsville deserves another Origin blockbuster in 2022.”