ROAD TO GLORY: Concept designs for the completed Stage eight master plan project.
ROAD TO GLORY: Concept designs for the completed Stage eight master plan project. Contributed

Grand regional sport vision

DRAMATIC population growth over the last 20 years has driven the need for a rejuvenated Whitsunday Sportspark.

With an eight stage master plan in place, $4.15 million ready to go, and an expected $20 million cost over the 15 years it will take to complete - the Sportspark is set to take a leap forward.

Whitsunday Sportspark president Justin Butler said the area was too valuable to only do a "piecemeal job”.

"There aren't enough sports fields in Airlie Beach - you have got one AFL oval, one rectangular field and the netball courts servicing the whole population,” he said.

"It started out with us just needing an extra field, so we looked at realigning fields to fit in an extra rectangle field and morphed from there, we had an appreciation for how valuable it is to have a multiuse sports building within walking distance of Airlie Beach for sports tourism and carnivals and exhibition games and pre-season teams.”

Stages 1-3 of the project are set to get off the ground and will include establishing a new field, demolition of the AFL building and creating a new building four times larger.

This will mean more storage and club rooms on the bottom storey and a bar, bistro and gaming facilities on the top storey.

Mr Butler said numerous avenues would be explored to complete the master plan.

"The first three stages come in at $6.5 million we have $4.2 million in the pot, so we are still looking at other avenues of raising money and viability of borrowing money if we have to... at the end of Stage 3 we can re-open the club with a bar, bistro and gaming and the rest of it, so it will service a level of debt,” he said.

"We are looking at sponsorships and contributions from sports to bring that funding gap down as low as possible and will borrow the remainder.”

Mr Butler said with more than 1000 people using the sporting facility on a daily basis, the master plan will present an opportunity to fully harness the sporting potential available in the Whitsundays.

"We would look for the club to be not just supporting the clubs that call the Sportspark home but also the broader sporting community,” he said. "We are looking to build a sport and community club rather than just a sports club.” Money for the project currently includes $750,000 from council, $1.5 million state government support and $1.8 million worth of federal funding.