INTERVIEW WITH GEOFF DONAGHY, SUNCORP STADIUM CEO

When asked which sporting event he would most like to attend, Geoff Donaghy nominated, tongue in cheek, a Broncos NRL grand final win at the " new" Suncorp
Stadium.

The response was probably to be expected, given his new role within Ogden IFC overseeing the pre-opening and management of the redeveloped Stadium in Brisbane.

Ogden IFC was appointed by the Queensland Government in August this year to manage Suncorp Stadium. In addition, the company manages a number of other major venues including Telstra Stadium, the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, and the Cairns Convention Centre.

For the past six years, Mr Donaghy has been Ogden IFC’s Managing Director of the Cairns Convention Centre and was a major player in the Queensland and Far North Queensland tourism industry before that.

"Ogden IFC is in the "people gathering" business - be it the gathering of people for a convention, the gathering of people for entertainment or the gathering of people for a sporting event.

"Our mission is to do that to the highest standard possible, and for patrons to go away from any of our venues knowing what they have experienced is as good as anywhere in the world."

Mr Donaghy has been involved in sport in one way or another for most of his life. He has played competitive hockey, rugby league, rugby union, Australian Rules football, cricket, and even tried his hand at amateur boxing in his younger years. But playing A grade cricket as a 15 year old, alongside the legendary Don Tallon who had returned to his hometown of Bundaberg at the end of his representative career, is a moment Geoff will never forget.

Mr Donaghy recalls during those formulative watching an aggressive Keith Stackpole scoring a Test ton at the Gabba, a lightning-fast Fred Trueman terrorising the
Australian batsmen, and the supreme skills of Graeme Langlands and Johnny Raper turning it on for NSW against Queensland at the old Lang Park.

And he can remember, as a young boy in Innisfail, North Queensland, being glued to ABC radio listening to Clive Harburg's dramatic call of the finish to the first tied cricket test between Australia and the West Indies.

So, meeting one of the key combatants in that game, Sir Wes Hall (later playing for Queensland) at a coaching clinic in the north of the State, remains a special memory. But Mr Donaghy reserved most admiration for those who attained international honours while playing in country areas.

"A great example is Col Weiss, who was the Australian Rugby League test lock while in Bundaberg, and who I played against in the local district competition. It took incredible dedication by Col to make it from the bush. It's something that just can't happen now, given the level of professionalism in sport these days."

Mr Donaghy says the " process of professional sports business" has come a long way from those days.

"I admire those clubs and coaches in all codes - and Wayne Bennett, Leigh Matthews and Kevin Sheedy are three excellent examples - who address the holistic
development of young players and create a path for them in life as well as sport.

They are taking on an awesome responsibility managing these young lives. Mr Donaghy nominated "any sport played at the elite level" as something to be
savoured.

"Whether it's the final at Wimbledon, the final of the Rugby World Cup or the Superbowl, there is nothing better than watching the very best in their chosen sport in
action.

"As a true parochial Queenslander, my favourite sporting moments are when our State wins at anything - State of Origin, Pura Cup, the Lions in the AFL, you name it."

"Winning State of Origin matches are particularly special, and like all Queenslanders, I'm looking forward to the return of these games to Suncorp Stadium next year. The Blues won't know what hit them when they run out for game one - and that's before a tackle is even made," he offered.