The first Charity Shield held at Mudgee’s Glen Willow has been hailed a success with an estimated $2million boosting the region’s economy over the weekend.
Mid-Western Regional Council general manager, Brad Cam, said that they wanted to make sure that the area put its best foot forward in the first of this four-game deal with the Dragons.
“Overall I think it was fantastic, speaking to some of the players and officials they were just overwhelmed with the level of support from the community and the level of engagement when they were participating in a number of activities. Then to get out there and see a crowd of 9,133 on the day was just fantastic,” he said.
“We really wanted to make sure that we impressed players and officials to ensure that they felt welcomed and warmed and that the facilities are first class. And all reports are that’s exactly how they felt.
“I spoke to [Souths chairman] Nick Pappas and he said it’s the first time he’s been to Mudgee and he was so impressed that he can’t wait to come back next year.
“It was really surprising just how many people that you saw dressed in Souths or Dragons jerseys, they’re passionate supporters of the two clubs, so we’re very lucky to have two great clubs with long histories coming to Mudgee.
“Our understanding is that more than half that crowd came from out of town, so it’s just a wonderful opportunity to showcase our region – not only for sport, but for all of the other things we offer.
“About $2million has been brought into the economy of Mid-Western, having people come into the region that have never been here before, staying motels and caravan parks and buying food and fuel.”
Mudgee Chamber of Commerce president, Greg Dowker – whose Winning Post Motor Inn is a duty motel for the region, said, “Saturday night we were booked out apart from a couple of B&Bs, there are 96 B&Bs in town so that’s not surprising. Sunday morning the town would’ve been flat out, particularly for breakfast.”
Mr Cam said that they’re confident looking towards Round 11 of the NRL season when the Dragons host the Canberra Raiders, with tickets currently on sale for that match.
“It all bodes well for our game on May 20 when St George Illawarra plays Canberra, we’re looking forward to that and it’s going to come around quickly,” he said.
There will be some homework for Council before then with issues raised over delays for spectators getting to the match.
MWRC allowed people to cross at the suspension footbridge across the river two-abreast with a small gap in between.
Mr Cam said that this was because people found the movement uncomfortable last time. This did cause delays mainly because the crowd was up on previous games.
He added the new Holyoake footbridge was shorter and quicker, even for those at the caravan park or who’d parked in the Council carpark.
And they were also surprised to see extended queues prior to gates opening at 5.15pm, expecting a steady trickle before the 7.30pm main game.
They opened earlier and tried to speed up the flow. “We’ve learned from that and we’ll make sure the gates open earlier for the next game”.
He also acknowledged the volunteers. “There were a lot of people who worked not only on the ground but behind the scenes and without them this event wouldn’t have happened. Yes we’ve got staff, but there’s a lot of volunteers that do their part and I’d really like to thank them.”