League cup keeps local businesses busy

THE annual Jason Hetherington Cup has been a mini-bonanza for Gladstone businesses.

A contingent of 570 rugby league under 12s, their parents, grandparents, siblings and coaches have spent up a storm during the three-day tournament.

The winning team, the Burleigh Bears, from the Gold Coast, raised $15,000 to come to Gladstone and have spent much of that on accommodation, food and entertainment.

It had 16 boys, 32 adults and 13 siblings staying in the Gladstone City Central Plaza.

"The money just disappears. We have been going to the Reef Hotel for some cold beers and meals and the boys have loved it," coach Scott Tagg said. "One of the boys even said the local meat had made them stay on the field for longer."

Hogs Breath Café Gladstone franchisee Alex Staines said he was inundated with country diners because of the tournament.

"We have had mostly the guys from Moranbah and out that way more than the likes of Burleigh, Nambour or Toowoomba," he said.

He said it was a good opportunity for country people to experience what a city like Gladstone had to offer.

"I see these events as a great opportunity to showcase some of the best aspects of Gladstone while also pumping funds into our local economy," he said.

The Gladstone Central Apartments was so busy with teams they turned away workers from Curtis Island.

Operations manager Greg Whitehead said it was a welcome spike in business though. "It's been a great weekend for us and it's been good having the young teams stay with us," he said.

Gladstone District Junior Rugby League secretary Wendy Deacon said despite only getting 10 hours' sleep over the three days she was ready to do it all again.

"It's great for Gladstone to be able to fill the hotels and restaurant with people. Some people are even staying an extra day to look around."