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This annual award honours a graduate from Deakin University's Sport Management program who has contributed to the advancement of sport through their excellent managerial and/or administrative skills. The award is supported by the School of Management and Marketing and the Bowater Trust.
Ben Payne completed the Master of Business (Sport Management) in 1999.
Ben is currently the Manager of Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville Queensland. He re-located to North Queensland in August 2007 to pursue a career in which he could advance regional sport, after having worked in Coffs Harbour. He was appointed manager of the new $20 million Tony Ireland Stadium which has been designed to cater for both AFL and cricket.
Building an AFL and cricket stadium in rugby league mad North Queensland was a bold move, but was indicative of the progressive approach adopted by the local council. Operational event planning was central to Ben's early tasks and after the opening of the stadium on 6 December, the facility hosted a KFC Twenty/20 Big Bash. Tenant agreements were subsequently negotiated with Queensland AFL, Townsville AFL, Queensland Cricket and the Thuringowa Bulldogs AFC. This created a strong weekly set of fixtures plus training schedules, as well as the development of a sports house at the facility.
Tony Ireland Stadium has rapidly become a focal point for community activities beyond sport including the Greekfest, North Queensland Camping and 4 WD Expo, New Year's Eve celebrations, Carols by Candlelight and the Riverway Markets on Friday nights. Ben has been responsible for positioning this facility as central to the local community and has done so as the only full time employee focused on the business of ensuring the ground is economically viable.
Prior to working in Townsville, Ben worked as the Coffs Harbour Sports Unit Manager, Westgate Health Club Manager and at Swimming Victoria. In relation to his regional appointments, Ben has facilitated, over the last five years, events worth in the vicinity of $180 million of economic benefits to the these communities.
Ben acknowledges the support he has received from staff with whom he has worked, in particular those associated with his work in regional Australia, and the knowledge and confidence he gained by completing the Master of Business (Sport Management) as instrumental in assisting him achieve his goals. Ben has also been a regular in recent years at the annual Sport Management Association for Australia and New Zealand conference in his ongoing quest to update his knowledge and apply it to his working environment.