The Coast is set for a stadium stoush with Robina's $160 million Skilled Park due to be outplayed after plans to radically rebuild Gold Coast Stadium at Carrara were leaked yesterday.
The $110 million proposal to redesign the $900,000-a-year 'white elephant' would see the riverside venue able to seat 25,000 under a signature wave-shaped roof while, in a world-first, patrons could arrive by water in either public rivercats or private craft.
Horseshoe-shaped in design and opening on to the Nerang River, the reborn venue, described as a scaled-down version of an Olympic stadium, would take a number of years to complete with construction undertaken in a series of stages.
After six years of planning, the first sod of the new stadium could soon be turned with a groundswell of support, spearheaded by Mayor Ron Clarke, indicating it's a matter of when, rather than if, an AFL team calls the Coast home.
Despite a 2001 agreement between the Queensland Government's Major Sports Facilities Authority and the AFL that any Gold Coast team must be based in Brisbane until 2016 to justify the Government's $180 million redevelopment of the Gabba, there is growing optimism that decision will be overturned.
While Cr Clarke has argued the Government set a precedent by redeveloping Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium and also paying for a new NRL ground at Robina, AFL sources are quietly confident that if they foot the bill for the new Gold Coast Stadium at Carrara our team will come -- and well before the next decade.
While the political and sporting stoush is yet to be resolved, a source yesterday said the proposals were already crystal clear.
"With the boating aspect of the arena, there really is nothing else like this in the world," he said.
"They've actually designed a marina at the back of the site and opened it up to the Nerang River so that ferries and water transport options can be used. Not only does this make the site unique, but it will also help alleviate traffic congestion.
"I believe this stadium will be a world-leader in that aspect.
"The wave-shaped roof will also make it one of the most recognisable venues in the world.
"It's going to be amazing."
An AFL spokesman yesterday confirmed the plans but refused to release completed images.
"The images we have are concept plans of what a stadium might look like, but there is still a way to go," he said. "We're looking at what we would need to do to increase capacity and improve the experience for customers, but I can't comment on when or if these plans will be realised, nor the future of AFL on the Gold Coast.
"We're committed to three years with the Kangaroos at Carrara and we've said we want to hold more games in southeast Queensland by 2015, but right now we're focused on the present.
"There are a lot of things happening with the Kangaroos board but there is still lots to be done."
Not to be outdone, the NRL's Skilled Park at Robina yesterday showed signs of significant progress, with its roof rafters being installed.
Construction of the 25,000-seat stadium is on schedule and the complex is due to open in December.
Once completed, Skilled Park will have 100 open corporate boxes and 28 closed corporate suites, a 500-seat function centre and 16 food and drink outlets.
The western stand will form the showpiece area of the venue, a 14,000sqm stand that will be the base for season ticket-holders.
Outside the stadium, a retail precinct will be built for fans who arrive by rail at Robina station next door, by bus, car or even by watercraft, up the Mudgeeraba Creek at the back of the complex.
However, the source said Skilled Park's waterfront arrivals would be akin to a dinghy compared with Carrara's 'Queen Mary'.
From being a sporting wasteland since the late 1990s that no national code wanted, the Gold Coast has now become a prized possession.
Since the NRL announced that the Titans would be part of its competition all other codes, especially the AFL, have expressed renewed interest in the region.
The AFL's Kangaroos will play five games at Carrara this year as the league attempts to maintain a major presence here among the fans.
The Titans' debut season is also being played out of Carrara.
Gold Coast Bulletin