PODCAST Toowoomba

The Toowoomba Sports Club is LOCALLY Owned by Members and is Renovating

The Toowoomba Sports Club is still owned locally by the members of the club, and is currently investing in renovations to its building.

The Toowoomba Sports Club General Manager, Karen Evans set the record straight on the club’s structure.

“So, that constitution that was formed way back in 1990, we still work by that constitution,” Karen Evans said in the podcast discussion above.

“There is a landlord agreement (with the Canberra Raiders Group)…

“We lease the building from the Raiders.”

The club profits continue to go to the sporting affiliate groups.

“We’ve got five sporting affiliate clubs, three rugby league, a basketball and a hockey,” Karen Evans explained.

Further, the club is undertaking renovations to remain competitive.

“There’s a massive re-investment, and it is a shared re-investment as well,” Karen Evans said.

“And I’ll give the Raiders a little pat on the back for being awesome landlords, because they are contributing a lot more money than a regular landlord would.”

The club is expected to trade mostly as per normal, with members and guests being encouraged to continue to go to the club and check out the renovations as they progress.

Included in the renovations, are provisions for outdoor space within the club.

Read the Toowoomba Sports Club Discussion Podcast TRANSCRIPT

McCarthy-Wood: Thank you very much for your company. Once again, I’m Andrew McCarthy-Wood. What I am up in Toowoomba. We drove up early this morning. As you know, we quite often chat with Daryl Nicholson. He’s known as a Toowoomba advocate, or so likes to get out there and talk about some of the other regions, being Warrick and Stanthorp, and all of those sort of places. There’s a really good reason as to why we’re in Toowoomba. The Toowoomba Sports Club. Now we have a special guest, Daryl. This is odd. I’m actually looking at you. We usually do this over the phone.

Daryl Nicholson: Normally, we’re on the phone, but yeah, we’re face to face. Thank you for coming up to the beautiful garden city, by the way, so really appreciate it.

McCarthy-Wood: Thank you for having us. Look, I know we’re going to have a chat with Karen Evan. She’s a general manager of the Toowoomba Sports Club, but I’ve just got to mention it was an early morning that we jumped into the car, headed out from the Morton Bay region. We were just talking about it before we hit record, but up through Woodford Kilcoy to [inaudible 00:00:52], all of those places, and it’s really obvious. There is no question about it. You can see that dry weather’s taking its toll.
And as we’re talking about with Kilcoy, we’re seeing a very, very green. When it rains it just becomes awesome, really green, and usually when it’s dry, it just comes off that green, but now it’s almost turning into a desert. To come up into Toowoomba and see the effort that has been taken. We know that it hasn’t been raining in Toowoomba because I see your posts regularly. You’re calling for rain, calling for people to get out there and rain dance, and all of those sort of things, but the main street, Rutland street, and the other streets back from it, the pride and the effort that has been put into this place is amazing, isn’t it?

Daryl Nicholson: Well, that’s what I was saying, too. I walk home at two or three o’clock in the morning. The street sweepers are out. I’ve lived at Prince Henry Heights. They send up a street suite there once a week, once a fortnight. There is a lot of pride here with our city and the Toowoomba Regional Council do a great job maintaining the parks and gardens and the streets around Toowoomba is absolutely beautiful.

McCarthy-Wood: And that pride, it goes into the businesses, and that’s part of the reason why we’re here at Toowoomba Sports Club. There’s substantial investment underway when it comes to the Sports Club. And we do have Karen Evan with us. Karen, how are you?

Karen Evans: Good morning. Thank you, Andrew. I’m well.

McCarthy-Wood: Well, I know Daryl’s got a heap of questions for you and we’ve talked about Toowoomba Sports Club quite a bit because we have a bit to do with different clubs around the place, and what we tend to find with clubs we want to get in and talk about the renovations and some of the other things. And I know Darren wants to have a chat with you about some of the history around the Club. But I just want to jump in, if I can, Daryl, just a bit of indulgence, and find out what did it is, some of the things that the club does for the community.

Karen Evans: Sure, a great history here, Andrew. Five sporting associations started Toowoomba Sports Club, hopefully I’ll get this right, let’s say 1990, trading in 1992, but in 1990 they’re said to establish the club. So, five sporting groups got together, come up with the concept, let’s start a licenced premise and that licence premise can then return in incoming years money back to fund our sports. So, we have Rugby League, Basketball and Hockey. So, quite unique. We don’t have any sporting fields attached, but we’re here to provide money back to those sporting groups.

McCarthy-Wood: Yeah. And you know Patchy, well, Kelvin Patchy, he’s the secretary manager of the [inaudible 00:03:21] Sport Club. We’re talking about him just recently and that’s why it got my curiosity, because they’ve got a similar model. And that’s one of the things that there are quite often conversations around the sports club might look shiny and well invested, which it needs to be so that you have patronage, but it’s the stuff that quite often goes unrecognised and unrealized that the club is actually doing something very, very important for the community. Do we want a find a little bit more about that, about maybe some of the benefits that those clubs have, just subsidiaries, have enjoyed because they’ve got a club here that supports them.

Karen Evans: And I agree. That’s a tricky one. When you have a golf club, you see the golf course, it’s very obvious. You have a bowling club, you say the bowling greens, but a sports club, Toowoomba Sports Club, without that field attached, the identity has been a little bit lost, I guess, as to what we actually do. So, it’s tricky. It’s been tricky to get the message out that the money here goes back. Well, lots of money goes back. Not all, of course, lots gets reinvested, as we’re going to talk about, back into refurbishment and for our members, but a lot of cash goes out every year to keep sport happening in Toowoomba.
And that, when you talk about how many people that impacts, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of people, potentially. We’ve got five sporting affiliate clubs, three rugby league, a basketball and a hockey. I don’t know exactly how many members I have, but I’m going to go it’s tens of thousands of people.

McCarthy-Wood: Then all of the families, all of the benefits of them participating in sport. It just goes on and on, doesn’t it?

Karen Evans: Correct.

McCarthy-Wood: Daryl, you used the term just before we started recording, involved.

Daryl Nicholson: Involved. And look, I went to the Southbrook-Toowoomba Regional Partnerships meeting. I saw Cole from Teen Challenge last week. I said, “How’ve you been Cole?” He goes, “I’m not going to use the word busy, but I’ve been involved in the community.” And I thought, “That’s great.” And that’s the theme I want to bring forward in this podcast today is involvement, because Karen’s really taken the staff, the management and the members now on a journey in the redevelopment.
Because this club originally was in the old Coronet Theatre, which is the car park, and I was telling you earlier.

McCarthy-Wood: Yeah, tell us your story.

Daryl Nicholson: I saw Grease in their Coronet theatre when I was 14, and I lived out of Coronet Barracks. Now that Coronet theater’s gone. Good memories there, the car park’s there. The club was open here. Pokies were upstairs. I remember that. I joined in 2013, no, 2003 I joined. Pokies were upstairs. They moved the transition downstairs, the sports bar moved and it is what it is today. And a member said to me the other day, she goes, “Oh, I got thrown. I came in here, I had to go upstairs. Why are you renovating?” I said, “Well, we’ve got to, because we’re not only competing with the golf club and Club Glenwell, we’re competing against QRDC with Green Central now, because the restaurants, they’ve got food available all day.
And this member, she’s like, “Oh, I don’t really see why you’re doing it. The club’s perfectly great.” And that’s fine. That’s for perspective. But we’re really on an exciting journey. So, the involvement, Karen, I do you want to thank you. You’ve had staff meetings. We’ve all been in staff meetings here. Management, the committee, the Raiders because want to dispel the myth. A lot of people think the Raiders own the club. It’s the members that are in the club. So, the Raiders are involved. And of course the committee. So Karen tell us, why are we renovating? Why is the sports club renovating?

Karen Evans: So, can I give you a little bit of history?

McCarthy-Wood: Absolutely. Go for it.

Karen Evans: To set the record straight. And it’s a little bit complex, a bit of a complex story. And I’ll try and keep it as simple as I can. So I did start here in 2002, and it was a beautiful looking club. Brand new. And so we’re looking at around about 20 years now, since it’s been built, and it was three old buildings here. I took three historic buildings, I gathered them and then made this beautiful club hous.
And then behind us, as you remember, Daryl, the theatre was behind us, and the theatre was the function room, so they added that up to the buildings. We’ve got a little bit of a walkway across now, to what’s our car park now, hangs over the line way behind us. We’ve got a lease over that lane way as well.
So, it’s very complex. So, five lots of land, effectively, that might up the club. This club was built beautiful, but unfortunately they spent a lot of money and they didn’t quite achieve the trading results that they thought they would. It fell into receivership and that’s where my journey started here, I guess, in 2002, because I work for and I still work for the Canberra Raiders Group.
Effectively, the easiest way for me to explain this, they are the bank. So they came along, they funded the club when a traditional bank wouldn’t because of the debt level. So, the Raiders come along, they were the bank, but the bank insisted on having their own manager in place to help the club trade.

McCarthy-Wood: If I could jump in here. Queensland has quite stringent and technical regulations around who can own clubs when it comes to licencing for gaming and all of those sort of things. So, it’s a management agreement as such, isn’t it?

Karen Evans: That’s right. So, those five affiliate clubs that we spoke about, that started, still receive the benefit and our members here own the club.

McCarthy-Wood: Which, at the end of the day, if there wasn’t such an arrangement, and probably some of those hoops, which can be frustrating at times, but it then means that those subsidiaries don’t lose the benefit of having that primary club about, right?

Karen Evans: That’s correct. So, that constitution that was formed way back in 1990, we still work by that constitution.

McCarthy-Wood: Isn’t that great?

Karen Evans: So, money goes back to the members here. Money goes back to the clubs here. However, there is, in the background, the Raiders’ agreement. There’s a management agreement that we manage the club on their behalf, and also now, there is a landlord agreement so that they lease. We lease the building from the Raiders. So, the Raiders own the building. So, the landlord and there’s a management agreement. It’s pretty simple.

McCarthy-Wood: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Totally get it. And it’s not unusual, just to put some context around it. That’s actually happened a lot through Queensland, and one that comes to my mind straight away is the [inaudible 00:09:07] has that same arrangement with the [Cambalda 00:09:08] Sports Club. We’ll talk about Patchy. And I know that there are other clubs where they’ve done the same sort of thing. So, it is protection mechanisms to keep clubs very community based.
But then there’s also mechanisms for them to be able to move forward out of times where trading does become difficult. And Daryl, we have talked about this. This happens in communities, doesn’t it? Where an area of the town might be bustling, but then something changes and it shifts it from underneath you. It’s good that you can actually have mechanisms that you can move forward. So, moving forward to now, there’s a reinvestment in this facility.

Karen Evans: There’s a massive re-investment and it is a shared re-investment as well. I’ll say that. And I’ll give the Raiders a little pat on the back for being awesome landlords, because they are contributing a lot more money than a regular landlord would. So, they’ve got these club’s benefit at heart, too. They are kind of going, “You know what? We’re going to back you in as well, because we’re longterm partners. Even though we’re landlords, we’re also a longterm partner. We see our partnership here with you, and we want a longterm commitment to the place, too. So we’re going to throw a [inaudible 00:10:12].”
They’re contributing, I can’t give up the money, of course, a significant, some would say, into this refurbishment, too. So, here we are, and off we go. So, we’re 20 years old, effectively, this building, and we do need a lot of work done. So, the member that said we don’t need it done, Daryl, that is fantastic feedback. It means we’ve done a really good job of keeping it looking presentable because it’s not.

McCarthy-Wood: Yeah, so a couple of things there. Essentially, Daryl, what we’re saying is that we like the Raiders except for when our teams are up against them, yeah?

Daryl Nicholson: Well I am.

McCarthy-Wood: No love lost in that moment.

Daryl Nicholson: I was born in Canberra. Karen reminded me that. She asked me at a state of origin story. “Where were you born, Daryl?” I said, “Camberra.” “Well. You’ve got to go for new South Wales and Canberra.” So, I’m always excited when they win. So, again, coming back, Karen, that’s a great answer to the question. We’ve got to renovate, we’ve got to invest that money. We’re not only competing against clubs, we are competing against the Grand Centrals of the world, and other businesses out there. So, it’s business as usual for the next 10, 11, 12 months. So, that’s the message we want to get across.

Karen Evans: I think business is going to be unusual, not as usual, but it will be fun. That’s for sure. But we are going to trade. We’re going to trade the whole way through this.

McCarthy-Wood: And actually, it’d be fun. It’s something to embrace. And look, if you’re a nosy person like I am, this is the best time to down. Check the club out, have a meal, sit around. And we’re in the facility right now. We’ve had no problems as far as tables, and all of that sort of stuff, guys. The logistics of getting in and out, the accommodating factors around that have been absolutely brilliant. We’ve been able to get a vehicle straight to the back door, which is awesome with this club, that you have that mechanism, get the gear in and all of that.
But you can sit here and see this transition happening, and probably the same as what you said Darryl. You think back to when you’re 13, 14 you fond memories and there’s been changes. This’ll be another moment where there’s going to be some changes. So what are some of the exciting things that you’ve gotten a pipeline for this club?

Karen Evans: So, I think the biggest one for us will be that we’re going to try and get some outdoor space inside. So, obviously, as we’ve already talked about, we don’t have any outdoor space here. So, that’s always been a challenge for us, competing with those places that have a beautiful out walk. We don’t have that. We don’t get to look over the beautiful green golf course or over the bowling green. So, let’s try and get the outdoor arena.

McCarthy-Wood: Just while you’re talking about that, we noticed when we drove up Ruffin Street, you’ve got a plant out on the veranda. Who keeps those green and healthy because they are awesome.

Karen Evans: Oh look, you know, I’ll give him a rap. Tony Hold is his name, and he has his own little plant business. He’s a good fellow and we’ve known him for lots of years. He comes in diligently, weekly, and waters and prunes and looks after them. He does a good job, doesn’t he? They’re beautiful.

McCarthy-Wood: Absolutely.

Karen Evans: Yeah, so they do look great. But we want to get some outdoor in. We want to pull out some windows and I’m going to call them outdoor spaces. They can’t be entirely outdoor, of course. We’ve got two level buildings, and we can’t get rid of that slab in between the roof and the ground level, but we’re going to pull out some windows and try and create these outdoor spaces with a bit of greenery, and a bit of fresh air, and some bi-folding doors and whatnot. So, we’re going to have an outdoor cafe on the ground floor that’s got outdoor space.

McCarthy-Wood: So, you’ll be able to get a coffee and that in the morning.

Karen Evans: Get a coffee, come in a bit early, set up your laptop before work. You know, if you’re wandering around the streets and you’ve got your car parked a kilometre away because there’s a bit of a lack of parking in [inaudible 00:13:25]. But come early, get your car park in a shady street, walk down, have a coffee, set up your laptop, sit in the cafe for an hour or so before work and do a bit of work.

McCarthy-Wood: [inaudible 00:13:35] That’s starting to seem a perfect morning.

Daryl Nicholson: And even after the Empire Theatre, there’s possibility of capturing that Empire Theatre market because there’s really not a lot of places to get a coffee after a show at the Empire Theatre.

Karen Evans: And I think that’s right, Daryl. And particularly when you’re of a certain age group like I am, we get a bit particular about where we want to go late at night. So, I think here, you certainly can come back. We trade through ’til three in the morning and so with that beautiful cafe-

McCarthy-Wood: So, you’re saying, if you’re particular and you’re picky, you need to head to the Toowoomba Sports Club. They’ll take care of you.

Karen Evans: Yes. I think you better sit down there and have a lovely glass of red and a chocolate brownie or something late at night. That’ll be beautiful, wouldn’t it.

McCarthy-Wood: Oh, that sounds good.

Karen Evans: Sounds pretty good.

Daryl Nicholson: So, Karen, the community and a lot of money goes back into the clubs and especially, we’re encouraging the young sports people to take part. And we’ve got some great sporting names like Nicky Hudson was Toowoomba Hockey. Angela Skirving. The names could just go on and on. But tell us about the contribution you put back into the five clubs, that money that goes back into those organisations.

Karen Evans: I’ll tell you about Nicky Hudson’s abs first. And let me tell you, when I started working here, her mom, Jane Mark, was here, and actually quite a few of Nicky’s family members worked here when I started here in 2002. And one day, Nick came in, and her mom, Jane, introduced me to Nicky, and said, “This is Nikki.” And I went, “Wow.” I was a bit in awe of Nick. And she said, “Feel her abs. Go on, feel her abs.” Poor Nikki was very embarrassed.

McCarthy-Wood: Just want to point out this is a G rated podcast.

Karen Evans: So, I gave Nick a little poke in the tummy and I said, “Oh my gosh. There’s nothing that hard on me except my elbow, Nick.” It was pretty hard. I’m sorry, Daryl. The initial question?

Daryl Nicholson: Just under a quarter of $1 million. I think the figure I saw on the screen is about 200.

Karen Evans: 200000, I think. This year was 100000 because we’re doing a refurbishment. We’re being a little conservative and holding onto a little bit of cash just in case, just watching cashflow. But last year was 200000, and it’s been around about that 200000 mark each year for the past four or five years. So, then, building that, the answer is, we give as much as we can afford to give. We are hoping that, along with refurbishment and improvement to the club, that along comes improved trading results so these clubs get more money.

McCarthy-Wood: And that’s fairly similar to company dividends, isn’t it? You don’t always give out all your cashflow in a dividend because you may be putting it into something, which is, in your case, the renovations, which will then create more sustainable and larger dividends down the track.

Karen Evans: And sustainable is the word, isn’t it? You know, we want to give to these clubs for as many years as we possibly can. Hopefully forever, sort of thing, you know? So, we’ve got to make sure this business, first and foremost, thrives, moves forward, improves its trading results, and we can continue to give and build on that number if we can. That’s the challenge, isn’t it? If we can look after everybody and give the most we can give.

McCarthy-Wood: Yeah. Wow. Membership. What do you get for your membership when you sign up here?

Karen Evans: Heaps! Heaps, Andrew!

McCarthy-Wood: We’re members. For full disclosure. Yeah. We became members of here. And we were surprised. It was very competitive. I can’t remember exactly how much it was. It was like, yeah, five bucks or something for five years or something like that. And then we use it to reciprocate other places around Queensland.

Karen Evans: Yeah, fantastic. And of course we accept reciprocal members. We love them coming in here, but for two bucks 50, if you join up, it’s a whole heap of benefit and straight off the bat, the minute you walk in here, we have a $10 members menu. So, straight away, for you $2.50, you’re purchasing meals for $10 a year, saving you money on that very first visit.
Members here, we try to look after our members and give them good reason to return. So, we are effectively cutting margin, of course, to get members to come in and buy a $10 meal. But the idea is that you can come here three, four, five times a week if you want to, for your $10, as opposed to going to a fancy restaurant once, and spending 50, 60 bucks on a meal. So, we want you to come. We want you to be involved, as Daryl says, and be part of the place, and come regularly, and really get on board with the whole idea of the club.

McCarthy-Wood: That’s awesome. We have talked about subsidiaries and the benefits that they are to [inaudible 00:17:39] sporting subsidiaries, but you’ve also got a staff here, and Daryl’s one of them. How many staff do you have? What’s the employment status of this place?

Karen Evans: So, I think, at the moment, we’re about 54 staff, Andrew. But that does go up and down a little bit, depending on the time of the year and how many people we need, and who comes and goes. But roundabout the 50 mark is where we hover. And I’ve got to say, that’s pretty lean, probably, for a club this big, but we intentionally keep it quite lean because I try to look after our staff.
I think a lot of our staff are here 10 years plus. Some of our casuals are 20 years. Yeah, there’s a couple few in the kitchen, Wendy that calls bingo, they’re 20 years. They’re casual staff members that have been here for 20 years. longer than I’ve been here. We’ve got some permanents around that 20 year mark as well. And lots of permanents over 10 years.
I think just last year, we gave out some awards to staff who are greater than 10 years. There’s probably, I don’t know, let’s go with 12, 13 staff members that are greater than 10 years service? So, we keep the number lean. We try to look after people as well as we can possibly look after them. So, lots of the casual staff are mothers who want that flexibility around their work. They want to come in and work when the kids are in bed asleep or when the kids are at school during the day. So, they’ve been with us forever because it’s flexible, and they can do that, you know? So it’s a good place to work.

McCarthy-Wood: Yeah. Awesome. I want to do something a little bit different. Usually, we would go to Karen and say, “Look, you’re the general manager. Make the case for why people should come along here and have a good time.” I think you’ve probably done that anyway. But Daryl, you’re also a Toowoomba advocate. You do work here, but I think we might get you to do this one.

Daryl Nicholson: All right. Okay.

McCarthy-Wood: You invite people. Tell people why they should be travelling even from out the region, to Toowoomba and come and attend the Toowoomba Sports Club.

Daryl Nicholson: Well, look, I know for a fact, the meals here. I spoke to the member for Toowoomba North, Trevor Watts. He does tours around the region every fortnight on his speaker’s corner. And he said, “I got home last night, it was Australian Sit Day, Friday night. And he said, “The wife said, ‘Want to go out?'” And he goes, “Oh, I don’t want to go and pay $26 for a steak.” And I said, “Trevor, why don’t you come to the sports club? Because we’ve got five chefs here, five or six chefs. They do everything from toasted sandwiches to steak, salmon and chicken.”
So, we’re talking, it’s a very big range of a menu. So, I think this is one of Toowoomba’s best kept secrets. And I know you and Jody jump in the car and come to Toowoomba to eat.

McCarthy-Wood: Absolutely.

Daryl Nicholson: And you love the secret I put in, which I’m hoping is still on the menu, but yeah, Karen, the chefs. I mean, that is, and we’ve talked about this, the great range that they can do from a toasted sandwich up to the $32 steak, and that sort of thing. It tells a bit of the diversity of the chefs that we’ve got here.

Karen Evans: And they are all chefs. Let me point that out first. At the moment, we don’t even have any apprenticeships. They’re all qualified chefs. The wage bill and the kitchen is big, but we did that intentionally to try and make sure that we provide a quality product.
Food is a tricky one, and the menu is diverse. It’s everything from the $5 toasted sandwich all the way through to the, like you said, the salmon meal. And, also, on top of that, we have long trading hours. Which we start at nine in the morning with our food and we go through to 9:30 at night with our food, and of course with the renovation, I’m hoping that we can take it that through to midnight or beyond, perhaps.

McCarthy-Wood: Yeah, then you’ll have the cafe opportunities as well.

Karen Evans: That’s right. Exactly. So, long hours of trade and a big selection of foods. So, I think the idea for me, if I may, is that anybody can come in here. A family can come in here with the five year old, right through to grandma, and they can all pick what they want to have and it’s affordable, you know?
So, not only can they all have what they want to have, they can afford to come in here and have it weekly. They can come once a week. It’s not crazy promising. If they just want to have something small, they can have something small. There’s plenty of kids meals, there’s plenty of members $10 choices. It’s a massive menu. There’s a massive range of things. And I think that’s a big bonus. Like Daryl said, we’re a good, well-kept, secret, I think. And I think it’s a wonderful thing to be affordable and to have a big choice and long trading hours.

Daryl Nicholson: Yeah, exactly. And the other thing, Andrew, is sport. You can come here anytime. NRL on the big screen, IFL on the other screens, basketball. We’ve got so many screens around here and there’ll be more screens and different private areas that people can watch sport. Entertainment, I’m sure that’s going to be coming up on the agenda there. Poker machines, bingo, trivia. It just goes on and on. There’s so many more things here to do.
And the prices of the drinks. I mean, I’ve gone to other hotels and that sort of thing, and I’ve paid paying $5 for a scoon, or $5 if you’re member for a a cold mid scooner, versus $7, $7.50 somewhere else. I mean, wow. It’s great prices. So, that’s the benefits of membership.

Karen Evans: And again, it’s intentional. It’s an intentional thing to try and make sure that we look after members, we get people involved in the club, we get that return visitation and that loyalty. As it’s not about making a quick buck right here and now. It’s about trying to get people involved and their hanging there with us and stick with it. So, make it their place.
Now, it’s an interesting thing, a little bit of a sidetrack here, but I have a friend who lives in Port Macquarie whose father was a longterm director at a bowling club, who is also a very clever man, a bank manager, and has lots of interesting perspective and points of view. And he once said to me, “I love clubs, Karen, and the reason I love them is because they’re a great level up. A person from any background, from any economic sort of status, it doesn’t matter what they have at home. You come to the club, you’re all members for your 2 bucks 50. It’s an equaliser. It’s everyone’s club. Doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’ve got.”
And I love that. I love that about clubs. The fact that, when you’re in here, we’re all members, we’re all valuable. It doesn’t matter what’s happening at home or where you come from or what’s going on. It doesn’t matter. We’re all members and we’re all valuable and we’re all in it together.

McCarthy-Wood: Beautifully put. I was just going to say, one of the last things, so the renovations. When do you expect to have those completed? Because you’re going to have the Christmas in between aren’t you?

Karen Evans: We’re going to have Christmas in between. It’s going to be awesome isn’t it? Hey? So much fun. August is the answer, at this point in time. And so it does move a little bit depending on our schedule, but at this point in time, we’re hoping for a finish around about August of 2020, but it’s happening in stages. So, people are going to see stages open up between now and August.
So, we’ve got all of these stages of work happening, and in fact we’ll have some stages open in January. We’ll have little bits and pieces open in January. Then we finish that stage, we move to the next stage and so forth. So, unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to draw the curtain back and go, “Woohoo! Here’s the brand new club.” It’s not going to quite happen like that. That would be the dream wouldn’t it? But people are going to see little parts of the club opening around them.

McCarthy-Wood: But what you are saying is that, for a very limited time, until August, in fact, you can actually come down and see renovations being taken place, and you can see some investment in Toowoomba, and get involved in it, and have a good meal at the same time.
All of that. And in fact, you can take part in the renovation. Just last week, during bingo, we had all sorts of audio problems, and our staff member handled it beautifully. The microphone went out. She started to call out. “It’s okay, possums. Hang in there and I’m going to yell out these numbers.” She called out the numbers manually, which is quite physically straining for her. And at the end of it, when the audio come back on, they all cheered, and they were actually quite excited by the fact that something quite crazy had happened.

Karen Evans: There you go, Daryl. That’s community, isn’t it?

Daryl Nicholson: That is. And that’s what it’s about. It’s community. That’s the sports club and we’d certainly want the members and guests to get into the involvement, and the plans are all around the place. There’s architectural drawings and we invite the members to ask questions and get involved in some channel.
Karen, I am going to miss that staircase, but some engineering challenges as well. Just very quickly. Toowoomba is a land on swamp, the swamp underneath.

Karen Evans: You know, I’m learning. I’m learning so much. It’s such an exciting process. It truly is. To sit there and listen to the architects and the engineers.

McCarthy-Wood: Well I hear you’ve got your own hard hart now.

Karen Evans: I have got my hardhat. I have to learn a new hairstyle other than a ban here, Andrew, because my hard hat doesn’t fit along the bun. But yeah, it’s quite amazing. We’ve got this massive staircase. It’s all concrete. It’s about to come down next week. They wanted to bring in an eight tonne excavator, do you believe it, into the building on this side, but they can’t because they’ll [inaudible 00:25:28] with it. But they’re bringing in a three tonne excavator, which I believe arrives this afternoon, and they’re going to knock down these stairs. So, I think we’re going to shake this city up.

McCarthy-Wood: So if you want to see an excavator in action, come on down here. You can watch the renovations and you can have a good feed. Look, Karen Evan, thank you very much for your time. Thank you for sharing everything that’s been happening at the Toowoomba Sports Club. It’s been absolutely fantastic. Hey, Daryl? What’s your tag line?

Daryl Nicholson: Toowoomba, 4350. More than just a post code. It’s all about community.