Sporting chances . . . Aquatic services manager Martin Mackereth (left) and MLT Event Centre supervisor Dan Winkel are proud of the number of sports that have been on offer at the stadium over the past decade.

Ten years ago today the face of sport in the region changed forever. On that day then-deputy prime minister Sir Bill English declared the $3.1million MLT Event Centre open. It for everything from a training facility for international sports teams, to a venue for the national Young Farmer of the Year awards. It decade to remember. Kayla Hodge reports.

Everyone in Gore knows what a great place the MLT Event Centre is but its international reputation is also luring visitors from across the globe.

The introduction of seven pickleball courts last year resulted in international numbers exceeding expectations.

Centre supervisor Dan Winkel said players based their holidays on visiting Gore to use the facility.

”A lot of them that have been down here have changed their plans to come through Gore to play – that’s the beauty of it,” Mr Winkel said.

”We are the only place this far south that have it.”

Pickleball is not the only sport attracting players, and netball, futsal, basketball and tennis are bringing in good numbers.

The Australian Diamonds and Southern Steel netball teams, basketball’s Southland Sharks and rugby’s Highlanders have all used the facility to train over the years.

Netball created the busiest season for the facility; the sport was played there from February to September.

”There is no slow season though. It’s busy all the time.”

Annually it attracted 40,000 to 60,000 people through its doors.

”It has become such a big asset to the town – it’s amazing.

Aquatic centre supervisor Martin Mackereth said the response the centre received from out-of-town users was incredible.

”The people that come here from out of town that come here are amazed by the facilities we have here and cannot get over what we’ve got,” Mr Mackereth said.

”The whole place is called the jewel in the crown of the district.

”Sport-wise wer’re relaly asset-rich for a small community.”

Playing sport at the centre was a richer experience thanks to the communication Mr Winkel had built with the various codes.

”If you didn’t have that relationship that he’s built up it might be a different story but that’s the key to it and that’s where his strength is,” Mr Mackereth said.

”He goes above and beyond to make things happen.”

The centre also allowed the opportunity for activities such as laser tag, soccer darts and archery tag.

”The stadium has created more opportunities than I think people previously thought.

”But it’s also allowing people to think a little outside of the box and what else we can do.”

It was not just used for its sporting resources.

It hosted the New Zealand Young Farmer of the Year contest in 2010, which was attended by nearly 1500 people.

The Otago-Southland Dairy Awards, Gore Kids Hub Concert, Mataura Valley Milk opening and model aeroplane shows had also been held there.

The biggest refurbishment at the centre would take place when the wooden court was re-sanded and re-marked next month.

The MLT Event Centre would host a celebration on Sunday from 1pm.bridgemediaSneakers