Sport and cultural complex opens

CELEBRITIES, school children, politicians and an Olympic great were among those who helped officially open the new $17 million Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex yesterday.

The 16ha facility was revealed in all its glory yesterday, with Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham leading a 1000-strong crowd of special guests on a first walk through.

"This is what $17 million looks like," said a proud Cr Barham.

Among the features of the new complex are a huge indoor multi-purpose hall, seven outdoor playing fields, netball courts, athletics tracks and cricket nets, as well as function and meeting rooms, a stage and a commercial kitchen.

The hope is that the facility will be used not only for sport, but for meetings, functions and cultural events.

Cr Barham paid tribute to all involved, from the builders to the Federal Government, who chipped in $9.5 million for the project.

Special mention was made of the Byron Bay Community Sports Association's Paul Irwin, who was a driving force behind the project, as well as the work of the council's director of asset management, Phil Holloway.

Byron Bay identities John and Delvene Cornell made a rare public appearance to unveil the Cornell Family Fields - named to honour their long-standing contributions to the Byron community and to Australian sport.

Olympian Herb Elliott was instrumental in securing funding for the project and was also there to officially open the athletics fields named after him.

Paul Irwin, who has worked on the project for the past nine years, said he couldn't be happier with the final result.

"The community would have settled for a cow paddock for sports fields... but what we have here today is what the Byron community deserves."

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