By Kevin Lowe
GM Urban Planning & Leisure Services at
City of Campbelltown, SA
Having just lived through the planning, building and commissioning of our newest asset at council, The ARC Campbelltown which is a significant investment in local leisure facilities at just over $26m, incorporating sports courts, squash courts, gym, crèche, cafe, function rooms, pools and water play areas. I have now had time to reflect on the impact it has had, not just on the community but our local economy after opening in July 2016.
The economic impact the development and ongoing use of these centres is not often thought of as they are widely used community facilities and the benefits to the community are mostly reported but as can be seen they have far reaching impacts on our community and our economy.
This facility went from around 8,000 visits a month to approx 30,000 visits per month therefore showing its popularity and with memberships continually growing and programs like learn to swim being well subscribed it is a great community success but this also has a economic impact as industry benchmarks show that every visitor would spend around $1.20 during their visit.
The ARC hosts over 10 sports clubs and other community groups and is a space for connecting socially with the pools and cafe supporting those there to participate in programs but also spectators and some who are just looking for a meeting place.
The Australian Sport Commission has looked at which sports are the highest participation sports across the country and its interesting that where there are more of these types of facilities like Victoria, basketball is the highest participation , where as in SA where there are less facilities and more football fields than centres , football is the more dominate sport played.
The building of the centre created or supported over 100 jobs during the 12 month build finishing in June 2016. Once open for business 6 full-time and over 80 part time positions were created, a key outcome in these tougher economic times.
When you look at the WA “More than Winning” report that outlines the economic benefit of these types of projects as seen here https://www.dsr.wa.gov.au/support-and-advice/research-and-policies/more-than-winning
It states that in WA every dollar invested by the State generated $2.36 direct economic activity and $6.51 total economic activity, therefore using this model the $26.5m investment for the ARC has generated significant economic activity in SA, particularly when you factor in that the builder was a local company and the staff engaged are mostly local and also resulted in flow on benefits with ongoing support needed by business to supply other goods and services to the centre such as food and beverages, cleaning etc and this is supported in the study by the Victoria University on the benefits of Victorian Aquatic and Recreation Centres
These types of projects also drive local employment in its design as well engineering and build capacity of local companies.
But if you look deeper there are even more economic spin offs with clubs hiring staff to run competitions and be coaches , referees, umpires and purchasing uniforms and so on all creating employment down the chain as well as engaging lots of volunteers that in some cases equip people with skills to gain employment through their volunteering experience.
But having these types of facilities that are deemed leisure facilities also impact our economy in other ways such as productivity of the work force and centres like these help support health and well being in the community that in turn positively impact absentee rates in the work place but also can be a key player in the mix of addressing areas like childhood obesity which was a focus of the Productivity Commission in their 2010 report “Childhood Obesity – An Economic Perspective” where they highlighted the cost of obesity in 2008 was $58 billion and also sighted some successful interventions around promoting physical activity.
Now, writing this in “Mad March” at the height of the Adelaide Fringe we can’t underestimate the economic impact of events from things like the Murder City Roller Derby bout at the ARC as part of the Fringe to events like the master games where in 2007 the Australian Master Games had a direct impact to the SA economy of over $14m which would have been shared around venues such as this at the time. Therefore sports in a tourism sense can be seen as a catalyst for economic development not only through the competitions but the spend it brings with a US National Association of Sports Commission study suggesting that the average spend per day at these types of events was around $146 with a multiplier effect of $2.37 for every dollar spent.
So as you can see the local leisure facility can be a significant economic driver in that community but also a key contributor to the state economy and with our changing economy and the emergence and growth in sectors like health, sport, leisure and tourism as outlined in a study by Professor Richard Blandy on the Eastern Regional of Adelaide’s Economy
http://www.era.sa.gov.au/Documents/P03BED/ERA%20Economic%20Analysis%202013_Final%20Report.pdf more attention could be afforded to this sector and these facilities as economic drivers on multiple levels.