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Newsletter Issue 2 December 2000

Watching ‘the best’ at work

It was good to catch up with our friends from Commonwealth Games Associations all over the world at the CGF General Assembly on 26 September in order to update everyone on the status of our planning. It was also an excellent opportunity for us to be updated on the outstanding progress of Manchester.

Also in Sydney, the Melbourne 2006 team totally immersed itself in the Olympics, experiencing actual work shifts, sitting in on management meetings, meeting with key managers and extensively touring "behind the scenes".

In addition to Melbourne 2006 staff, we were able to gain access to specific areas for our key operational partners. These included particular staff of State Government departments and Melbourne sporting facilities critical to the delivery of a successful event in 2006.

With the fantastic assistance of Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) and Olympic Coordination Authority (OCA) we were able to not only observe operations when the pressure was on but also develop a physical catalogue of intelligence for ongoing reference.

Areas observed included media facilities, traffic and transport, athletes village and amenities, volunteer management, command centres, fields of play and merchandising. While we are not organising an Olympic Games, many of the organisational principles and concepts learned in Sydney pertain to our own unique Commonwealth Games.

Ultimately, it was an invaluable opportunity to learn from the "best Olympic Games ever" and our thanks go to the staff of SOCOG and OCA for making it possible.

From the Chairman’s desk

Sydney 2000 set a new benchmark for events anywhere in the world. Melbourne will have to work hard to achieve the standard that people will now be expecting. We must also work hard to ensure people differentiate between an Olympic and Commonwealth Games and appreciate the unique strengths of a Commonwealth Games. The sense of shared history, heritage and values between Commonwealth nations, an affordability and accessibility that by virtue of its scope an Olympics cannot deliver, and the uniqueness of its sports program from the universal blockbuster sports such as Swimming and Athletics to those sports which the Commonwealth nations excel at, such as Cricket, Netball, Lawn Bowls, Squash, Rugby 7's and Hockey.

The Victorian Premier and Minister for Sport visited Sydney and are excited at the opportunity Melbourne has before it. I continue to have regular contact with Charles Allen (Chairman, Manchester 2002) with a view to our events assisting each other where possible for the overall progression of the Commonwealth Games movement.

Ronald J. Walker AO CBE

Vodaphone Arena now open for action

Vodafone Arena is the newest addition to Melbourne & Olympic Parks, Australia's premier sports and entertainment precinct. This unique facility is located approximately one kilometre from the Central Business District. Situated in close proximity to the picturesque Yarra River, Vodafone Arena offers breathtaking views of the city skyline.

The reception foyer and entry level concourse comprises the commercial centre of the complex, featuring 10 food and beverage outlets and 4 merchandise outlets within the expansive public space.

One of many impressive features of this venue is the ease in which it can be transformed from one event configuration to another. The ease of reconfiguration allows for minimal turnaround times and a maximum number of varying events.

In the 2006 Commonwealth Games for instance, it is planned that Vodafone Arena will host Track Cycling and potentially Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Vodafone Arena has a maximum capacity of up to 10,800 seats, depending on the configuration. Typical capacities are 8,900 seats for an end stage production, 10,800 seats for a concert staged in the round, around 10,000 seats for a basketball match and 4,500 seats in velodrome mode.

The cycling track is a 250 metre circuit designed and constructed by world renowned velodrome builder, Ron Webb. It uses 56 kilometres of Baltic pine strips secured with 360,000 nails. The 7 metre wide track features a bank incline of 42 degrees and is designed to produce fast times and exciting racing.

Anna Wilson, Australia's top female road cyclist, christened the velodrome recently with a world-record of 43.501 kilometres in the hour time trial.

The record will have to be ratified by cycling's governing body, the UCI, but it eclipses the old mark of 43.082 km set by Dutchwomen Keetie van Oosten Hage in 1978.

Anna admitted her record might not stand for long, with the Dutch rider Leontien Zijlaard, who won three gold medals in Sydney, believed to be planning an attack on it.

Michael Hooper appointed Chief Executive of CGF

The Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Michael Fennell has announced the appointment of the New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary General, Michael Hooper, as the first Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Michael will take up his new position in January 2001.

Mr Fennell said he was delighted to welcome Michael to the London-based role.

"This is a new position within the Federation," Mr Fennell said. "Michael will bring to us a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge of sport generally, and particularly of the Commonwealth and Olympic Games movements.”

"We very much look forward to benefiting from his leadership."

The IOC member in Fiji, Dr Robin Mitchell, said Michael Hooper had spent considerable time working with smaller NOC’s, in particular those in American Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Vanuatu and Guam.

News of the appointment has also drawn support from across the Commonwealth.

Australian Commonwealth Games Association CEO, Perry Crosswhite, said his country was pleased with the appointment for a position which he described as one of the most challenging in international sport.

"Australia has been very supportive of Michael’s appointment and we have every confidence that he will help guide the Commonwealth Games through the next decade and beyond," Mr Crosswhite said.

From Africa, the Secretary General for Swaziland, Muriel Hoffa, said Michael Hooper’s network of contacts would benefit the CGF.

State Netball and Hockey Centre

Melbourne’s impressive new State Hockey and Netball Centre is nearing completion and will be open for business mid-January 2001.

It will be the official home for both Hockey and Netball, supplying brand new international standard facilities for domestic and world-class competitions.

The two sporting centres are integrally linked and share the main entrance and venue administration offices, café, sports shop, athletes’ gymnasium and seminar rooms. Each sport also has the facilities for offices and administration areas. There is also space for 650 cars.

The Netball facility is state of the art and comprises 5 indoor sprung wooden courts and 4 outdoor courts. The main show court has capacity for 3000 spectators and a broadcast quality lighting system.

At the other end of the complex is the Hockey centre, which boasts two international standard wet pitches with the main field seating up to 1000 spectators undercover. The fields are also suitable for use by sports such as Lacrosse, Touch Football and Gridiron.

Whilst the entire complex is designed to facilitate domestic competition it is more than suitable to be adapted to the requirements of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, with an overall capacity of 10,000 for Hockey to be presented in March 2006.

Lawn Bowls Centre

The State Government of Victoria has allocated $2.5 million to the development of a State Lawn Bowls Centre, which will host the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowls competition.

Local government partners are currently being sought to join the innovative project. Never before has there been a State Centre for Lawn Bowls in Australia and the development of this truly international standard facility can only serve to enhance the status of the sport in this country.

New Board appointment

Yehudi Blacher

Deputy Secretary, Governance, Legal and Administration

Yehudi has been in the Victorian Public Service for close to 20 years.

This included a period of 8 years from 1983-91 in various positions in the Department of Premier and Cabinet. He has previously held a number of Deputy Secretary level positions including Director of Local Government (1991-96) and Director, Youth and Family Services, Department of Human Services (1996-99). Yehudi replaces Greg Hyams.

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