MUSIC MAN: Dave Heggie, secretary of Ballina Tourism and Hospitality, has suggested Ballina Jockey Club could be a possible site for Splendour in the Grass. david nielsen
MUSIC MAN: Dave Heggie, secretary of Ballina Tourism and Hospitality, has suggested Ballina Jockey Club could be a possible site for Splendour in the Grass. david nielsen

Ballina vies for Splendour

BALLINA has gained a reputation for poaching music events from Byron Bay, and they’re at it again.

Ballina Shire mayor Phillip Silver, Ballina Tourism and Hospitality spokesman Dave Heggie, and Ballina Chamber of Commerce chairman Glenn Costello have all said they would take Splendour in the Grass off Byron Shire’s hands.

Splendour producers announced this week they would be moving the festival north of the border to Woodford next year after repeated unsuccessful attempts to hold a trial event at Yelgun.

The festival has approval to run at Woodford for two years, but producers hope they will be able to use the Yelgun site by 2011.

Meanwhile, Ballina community leaders are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of festival producers becoming fed up with battling against Byron Shire.

Cr Silver said he would speak to council staff about trying to bring Splendour to Ballina.

“I can’t pre-empt it, but I think it is the sort of thing that Ballina could manage and that would boost our economy,” he said.

Mr Costello also said Splendour would be a terrific boon for Ballina.

“We would obviously like it,” he said.

“You’d be crazy not to.

“Why wouldn’t we?”

Splendour organiser Jessica Ducrou said sites in Ballina had been investigated almost five years ago.

“Since 2005 we searched the Northern Rivers extensively, including Ballina, for a potential permanent home,” she said.

“None measured up to the North Byron Parklands (Yelgun) site.

“We weren’t contacted by the Ballina Jockey Club or anyone else in Ballina, until Wednesday, when our move to Queensland became news.

“We really appreciate their enthusiasm and support for Splendour though.”

Ballina has stepped in twice before to host music events unwanted by the Byron shire.

Reggae festival Raggamuffin was held at Ballina’s Kingsford Smith Park this year after promoters withdrew an application with the Byron Shire Council following concerns over traffic management and parking.

In 2001 the legendary Bob Dylan moved his concert to Kingsford Smith Park after there were objections to a development application to hold the event in Byron Shire.

Ballina also hosted New Year’s Day music festival Beats on the Beach in 2006 at Kingsford Smith Park.

Cr Silver was unwilling to nominate a specific Ballina venue to host Splendour, but Mr Heggie suggested the BallinaJockey Club.

“I think the Ballina Jockey Club would be a splendid place to have it,” he said.

“The racecourse is reasonably away from a lot of people, and they’re used to dealing with largish crowds out there.

“The horses might get a little bit upset, but I have talked it through with people from the racecourse and it would be possible if it was held when there wasn’t a race meeting.

“There’s also plenty of space for parking and there’s plenty of grass on the paddock so the name (Splendour in the Grass) would still fit.”

Jockey club CEO Sarah Wills said the idea of Splendour moving to the site had been suggested to her, but it would have to be supported by the board before any decisions were made.

Mr Heggie also said if Splendour was held in Ballina, Byron Bay would continue to benefit economically.

“The jockey club is close to the regional airport and if it moves to Yelgun a lot ofpeople would probably fly into Tweedanyway,” he said.

“And a lot of people would stay in Byron Bay and travel to Ballina for the festival.”

WOULD YOU SUPPORT SPLENDOUR IN BALLINA?

Phone 6624 3266 or SMS 0428 264 948



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