Business booms as Warwick prepares to take on the world
THE Polocrosse World Cup is so close we can almost smell it but its effect on Warwick business is already being felt.
Pubs and hotels across the Southern Downs are booked out and many are looking to put on extra staff to cope with the influx of riders and spectators.
Valerie Prentice from the Criterion Hotel said all the staff were on call and the pub was overflowing for Monday night's dinner.
"The rush has already started and there is a good vibe in town. We have opened for extra hours, we are primed and ready to go," Ms Prentice said.
The pub increased its range of local craft beers and will offer tastings for the visitors while it also expanded its range of wine and spirits to cater for thirsty competitors.
Business is also booming at the Horse and Jockey Hotel and it will host the South African team.
"There are no vacancies for the next two weeks," duty manager Luke Monro said.
"They have booked us solid."
Competitors enjoyed a mayoral breakfast yesterday morning at the Warwick Golf Club followed by the official horse draw at Morgan Park.
They will spend the next five days training before the competition starts on Easter Monday.
Cup organisers anticipate upwards of 40,000 visitors through the gates in the two weeks.
Warwick Polocrosse Club president Les Fraser said it was a conservative estimate and that many of those people would be repeat visitors.
"I'm thinking Easter Monday will be a pretty big day. It is a holiday, there are four World Cup games and Australia play first," Mr Fraser said.
"They play Zimbabwe."
The bigger days will see upwards of 5000 spectators, about 200 volunteers and hundreds of competitors, team support members and officials at the grounds.
Warwick hosted the Polocrosse World Cup in 2003 and the University of Southern Queensland estimated there were 17,000 people through the gates. When it returned in 2007 that estimate grew to 42,000.
In that time the sport became more popular so Mr Fraser said it was hard to put a figure on what attendance would be like this time.
With such incredible numbers of visitors anticipated to hit the Rose City over coming weeks, the event is expected to bring in the cash all across the Southern Downs.
"We are thrilled to be able to bring an international event to regional Queensland and the Southern Downs," Mr Fraser said.
"It attracts all these international visitors to Warwick and it adds to what Warwick is all about. We were fortunate that we were able to develop a world-class facility here at Morgan Park, there is not another facility anywhere in the world like this one."
Like the competitors, the volunteers are coming from all over the world. "We have them from the UK, Ireland and from all over," Mr Fraser said.
"Warwick is well supported by volunteers as in all our sports, like cricket, football or hockey."