Queensland Cricket pushes for 10k-seat stadium at Albion
Cricket administrators have warned that the Gabba may be off limits for more than seven years, with an upgrade of Allan Border Field being the most workable solution during the rebuild.
In a letter to the cricket community by Queensland Cricket boss Terry Svenson and chair Chris Simpson on Thursday, it says “cricket in Queensland is entering the most complex and uncertain era it has faced” as it enters the 2023/24 season.
The Gabba will be completely demolished and rebuilt ahead of the 2032 Olympic Games, and it’s believed work will commence following the Ashes Test in late 2025.
While Queensland Cricket is supportive of the state government’s decision to construct a new world-class stadium at the Gabba, the lack of timeframes is causing uncertainty for the organisation.
“Regrettably, the level of detail surrounding the Gabba project’s time frames has yet to be announced (and) as a result we face the real prospect of losing important Test and BBL cricket matches from Queensland to interstate venues during the pre-Olympic displacement from the Gabba, and hold a reasonable fear that a suitable solution to enable continuity of matches in Brisbane may not meet our needs or expectations.”
The Brisbane Lions are in a similar position, the venues including QSAC, RNA Showgrounds, Brighton Homes Arena and Heritage Bank Arena being considered to host AFL home games.
The Queensland Government has commissioned detailed designs to convert QSAC into an AFL stadium with seating for 34,846 spectators, while the RNA Showgrounds have put their venue forward to be upgraded – a plan backed by the Brisbane Lord Mayor.
However, Cricket Queensland believes the Brisbane Showgrounds could only host five BBL matches, with an alternative needed for Test Matches. Heritage Bank Stadium on the Gold Coast can also only host limited matches due to drop-in wickets.
Queensland Cricket believes an upgraded permanent seating capacity at the existing Allan Border Field precinct in Albion will deliver an appropriate solution to the challenges caused by the Gabba displacement. A $19m upgrade of the facility was completed last year, including an upgraded playing surface, field lighting, video screen and broadcast facilities.
Its capacity is currently only around 4,000 and a future proposed upgrade would see new grandstands constructed to boost the seating capacity to 10,000 to allow it to host international fixtures.
“Our preference for ensuring continuity of Elite Cricket in Brisbane when the Gabba is unavailable is an upgraded Allan Border Field, with existing cricket infrastructure that can host this level of cricket while being bolstered by an improved capacity. We believe that an upgraded Allan Border Field represents the most cost-effective solution with greatest long-term benefit to the community,” the letter says.
The letter also revealed it was the “firm stance” of both Queensland Cricket and Cricket Australia that the wicket block at the new Gabba was a permanent one rather than a drop-in pitch, as is usually the case at new venues such as Optus Stadium most recently.
It said if a drop-in pitch was to be used, then it would take up to five years to prepare one for Test Matches – meaning that there could be further delays for cricket’s return to the Gabba, but permanent pitches took 18 months to prepare.