Many memories and priceless moments were shared at WIN Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night at an official 20th anniversary celebration.
WIN Sports and Entertainment Centre venues manager Marc Swan said it was about celebrating the last two decades with staff, former staff, partners, sponsors and friends. He reflected on the community’s passion for the venue since the $20 million construction was finished in October 1998. And acknowledged Wollongong Sports Ground Trust and Venues NSW.
“We are in the experience business of creating memories. People always love to tell us about watching their hero and their idols perform and what their favourite event was”.
Mr Swan many artists had performed at what he described as a “sentimental place”. “It all started from Bob Dylan to Willie Nelson. Michael Chugg was the first to have a crack at it on the 5th of September 1998 and the artists have kept on flowing ever since. Just two weeks shy of the 20th anniversary Bob Dylan returned. Other entertainers have included Def Leppard, Deep Purple, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Black Sabbath, Beach Boys, America, Stevie Nicks, Crosby Still & Nash, Bryan Adams, Ed Sheeran, Pink, John Farnham, Suzie Quatro, Powderfinger, Missy Higgins, Tina Arena, Guy Sebastian, Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, Cher, Delta Goodrem, the Doobie Brothers and Carl Barron.
There were country superstars such as Charlie Pride and Dwight Yoakam at what also have been a Wiggley venue for a very long time.
There have been many local events from KidzWish to the annual International Women’s Day lunch.
Sport has also played a big part.
“Of the 3.36 million visitors through the venue about 890,000 have been to a Hawks game. That is almost 30 per cent of our attendance over 20 years,” Mr Swan said.
“It is community facility serving the people of the Illawarra faithfully for many years. But we could not have achieved this milestone without our many staff, ushers, cleaners, security guards, operations crew, full time staff and directors who are passionate and provide their expertise for the positive experience of others”.
Among those present at Wednesday’s celebration was Ben (Brian) Sheppeard who did security at the site for Camarda and Cantrill when the WEC was being built and has done security ever since.
His favourite memory was interacting with the cast of Mrs Brown’s Boys who were so easy to work with and very funny.
Ross and Tina Hush said they had notches up 50 years at the venue between them.
That is because he did security for the Steelers and the stadium during the decade before the WEC was built.
Rugby League icon Bob Millward said the venue had been great for Wollongong and all organisations who have utilised the space such as the many memorable rugby league functions.