Panel’s call for Victoria Park stadium rejected

Graphics of sporting venues. | Newsreel
A review was held into Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic venues | Supplied

The State Government will not build a new stadium in Victoria Park, despite it being the centrepiece recommendation from the Independent Review of Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Venue Infrastructure.

The review panel recommended building a new $3.4billion stadium at Victoria Park, detailing a litany of issues with the Gabba and its long-term viability.

It stated any decision on the future of the Gabba was a pivotal question for Queensland “that went beyond the Games, with a more important consideration the question of legacy outcomes for the community and Queensland’s place in the sporting hierarchy”.

The review panel, chaired by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, estimated that because of the current issues with the Gabba, it would cost more than $1billion to make it code compliant, without any improvement in capacity or functionality of the stadium.  That cost also would not enhance the spectator or stadium user experience.

“Rebuilding the aging Gabba requires substantial investment and, even when complete, will still not deliver a truly international standard stadium due to the constraints of the site. There is no alternative partial redevelopment option that will provide value for money or substantially avoid the need for a total rebuild in the long term,” the review panel stated.

“When an alternative stadium becomes available, the existing structure (should) be demolished and the site be repurposed. If the Gabba is not demolished and rebuilt it will still require very substantial expenditure in the medium term to remain operational and compliant without delivering any additional functionality or capacity.”

As a result of the recommendation that the Gabba be demolished, the panel considered alternative sites for legacy stadium, including the RNA Showgrounds, Albion, Toombul, Carrara Stadium and Suncorp Stadium.

None proved viable as a Games venue, nor as a long-term legacy for AFL and cricket, with various issues relating to stadium accessibility, cost, flooding, security and operational concerns.

To meet the needs of the Games and future-proof Queensland as a sporting events host, the review panel recommended a greenfield 55,000 seat stadium be built at Victoria Park.

Despite the estimated a price tag of between $3 and $3.4 billion, the panel believed it provided an opportunity to deliver the best outcome and enable a smooth transition, for cricket, AFL and other major events, from the Gabba.

While the State Government agreed a full Gabba rebuild would not take place, it has ruled out the Victoria Park stadium option.

The Government said it did not believe it would be possible to deliver any new stadium at Victoria Park within the existing agreed funding, and the IOC had noted that a new stadium for the Olympic and Paralympic Games sits outside the “new norm” of using existing or already planned venues.

In a media release, the Government said it would investigate upgrades to Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre and Suncorp Stadium.

It said the previously proposed rebuild of the Gabba would not proceed. Instead there would be a more modest enhancement of the existing facility in consultation with AFL, Cricket Australia, and other stakeholders.

The Government said those sports would no longer be displaced from the Gabba, and East Brisbane State School would not need to vacate its current site by the end of 2025.

The State Government has accepted the review panel’s recommendation to move Brisbane Arena.

The review acknowledged that Brisbane needed a city centre entertainment arena to replace the ageing Brisbane Entertainment Centre at Boondall, but noted the current Roma Street over-rail option, while a superior site, had become cost prohibitive and would have significant impact on rail commuters for a prolonged period.

“The next most viable site is the Roma Street carpark and maintenance depot development site, 500m to the north of Roma Street Station, adjacent to College Road,” the report stated.

Download the full list of findings and recommendations from the review.

Summary of key recommendations and the Government response:

Major venues:

The Gabba:

Recommendation to maintain to standard and then fully demolish until a different new stadium is built in a new location.

Government response: Vital maintenance work to proceed.

Brisbane Arena

Recommendation to proceed with venue in new location within Roma St Parklands.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Queensland State Athletics Centre

Recommendation not to use as a Games venue – recommended new stadium at Victoria Park.

Government response: Investigate upgrades to this venue for Games and legacy use.


Indoor sports centres

Breakfast Creek Indoor Sports Precinct (Albion)

Recommendation for new venue to proceed in alternate location at Boondall or Zillmere.

Government response: Recommendation accepted, with the size of this venue dependent on further analysis.

Moreton Bay Indoor Sport Centre 

Recommended to proceed and investigate increasing the size of the centre.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Logan Indoor Sports Centre

Recommended to proceed.

Government response: Recommendation accepted

Sunshine Coast Indoor Sports Centre

Recommended to proceed.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.


Chandler sports precinct

Brisbane Aquatic Centre

Recommended to proceed and minimise disruption during construction.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Anna Meares Velodrome and BMX supercross track

Recommended to proceed.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Chandler Indoor Sports Centre

Recommended to proceed.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.


Paddle venues

Wyaralong Flat Water Centre

Recommended to proceed with further consideration of exact siting at Wyaralong.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Redland Whitewater Centre

Recommended to proceed.

Government response: Recommendation accepted subject to the continued support from Redland City Council.


Regional stadiums

Barlow Park (Cairns)

Recommended to proceed.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Toowoomba Sports Ground

Recommended stadium facility upgrade not to proceed. Consider other events to be held in the region.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.


Other venues

Brisbane International Shooting Centre (Belmont)

Recommended to proceed with investigations for greater community use.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Sunshine Coast Mountain Bike Centre

Recommended to proceed.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Sunshine Coast Stadium

Recommended to proceed.

Government response: Recommendation accepted.

Suncorp Stadium (Brisbane Football Stadium)

No recommendation provided.

Government response: Government will investigate upgrade options.


Venues not in scope of review with no changes to plans

Alexandra Headland, Ballymore Stadium, Broadbeach Park Stadium, Broadwater Parklands, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane Showgrounds, Coomera Indoor Sports Centre, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Gold Coast Sport and Leisure Centre, Gold Coast Stadium, Ipswich Stadium, Manly Boat Harbour, Royal Queensland Golf Club, South Bank Parklands (Piazza, Cultural Forecourt), Queensland Tennis Centre, Townsville Stadium, Victoria Park/Barrambin.

The Review did not consider temporary venues and overlay, athlete villages, the International Broadcasting Centre and Main Press Centre, minor upgrades which may be necessary for existing sports venues.