THOUSANDS of Mackay basketballers had their first taste of the sport on the outdoor courts at Candlestick Park.
Those courts are no more, after earthworks contractor Leon Manzelmann yesterday started ripping up the goal posts, score boxes and other facilities to make way for a new $6.4 million indoor stadium.
When complete by about August next year, the Mackay Meteors and Meteorettes QBL teams will play on a show court with retractable seating for about 1500 fans, in a complex which will boast five indoor courts, four new change rooms, toilets, canteen, bar and entertainment area.
"It's definitely one thing that Mackay lacks, an indoor sporting facility of this size, so it's going to be exciting when this is complete," Mackay basketball operations manager Joel Khalu said.
The new stadium will be built on the site of the old outdoor area and will have three courts, with the existing original Candlestick Park building to remain with its two courts.
"In a way it's sad to see the old courts go," Khalu said.
"Candlestick Park is about 40 years old and there is a lot of history in these outdoor courts.
"A lot of people not just in Mackay but all over Queensland would have played in many state championships here and I believe there was a national titles here."
Khalu, who will coach the McDonald's Meteors as they look for a third straight QBL championship next season, said the new stadium would benefit not just basketball but many other indoor sports.
"It's not just basketball, it's netball, Sporting Wheelies, futsal, anything that can be played indoors," he said.
"We want to make sure that utilisation is at its peak so we can operate seven days a week."
Although Manzelmann doesn't play basketball, he is a big supporter of the sport and said he was happy to be involved in the creation of the new stadium.
"I play softball, but I do enjoy basketball," he said.
"I got hooked into it about five years ago and I've never left. All this work is at mate's rates, it's good for the sport."
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