Victoria Park stadium ruled out despite recommendation

Austadiums • Tuesday 19th March 2024
An aerial render of the proposed Victoria Park precinct showing its proximity to the CBD. Image: ARCHIPELAGO

The proposed new stadium at Victoria Park to serve as the main venue for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics has been ruled out, despite it being recommended as the preferred solution.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles made the shock call on Monday, following the release of the independent Sport Venue Review, announcing the Gabba would no longer be rebuilt, ruling out a new stadium at Victoria Park and instead, would rebuild QSAC to host athletics and host the ceremonies at Suncorp Stadium.

The review recommended replacing the Gabba rebuild plan, which was likely to cost $3 billion, with a new stadium at Victoria Park at a “marginally” higher cost of up to $3.4 billion.

The bold Victoria Park sporting precinct proposal, featuring a stadium with a capacity of 60,000-80,000 and a 12,000-seat indoor arena, would have created a long-lasting legacy for the city, according to Peter Edwards, the founder of architect firm Archipelago.

A new stadium build would have meant the Gabba’s tenants (Brisbane Lions and cricket) wouldn’t be displaced during a rebuild, nullifying the need for a costly temporary solution, such as the proposed RNA Showgrounds redevelopment.

The report mentioned that Victoria Park had been identified as a feasible and attractive venue for a new stadium development. Previously a golf course, the site is zoned for sport and recreation use and would deliver a lasting legacy as South East Queensland’s premium oval.

Integrating a new stadium within Brisbane City Council’s revitalised Victoria Park parklands has significant potential to create something truly unique in Queensland and to rival iconic parkland stadiums, such as the MCG in Melbourne.

As well as creating an extraordinary legacy for Queensland sport, a stadium set within regenerated parklands, with the Brisbane City skyline, Brisbane River and Mt Coo-tha in the background, would create a stunning backdrop for the Olympic Games.

A stadium development of this nature is attractive relative to other potential stadium options because it addresses the weaknesses identified by the Review Panel in the Gabba redevelopment proposal.

A stadium development unconstrained by site dimensions would deliver an unfettered opportunity to provide a true international standard oval stadium, enhancing accessibility and connectivity for all, and avoiding disruption to AFL and cricket.

But following a cabinet meeting on Monday, Queensland Premier Steven Miles said the government would not be accepting the Victoria Park stadium suggestion.

“When Queenslanders are struggling with housing and other costs, I cannot justify to them spending $3.4 billion on a new stadium,” he said.

Instead, the government will spend $1.6 billion rebuilding QSAC at Nathan, while remaining funds will be used to upgrade Suncorp Stadium, while the Gabba will receive a “more modest enhancement”.

The decision to upgrade QSAC comes despite the independent review recommending the 1982 Commonwealth Games venue not be used to host track and field events during the 2032 Games.

QSAC is located 12km from the Brisbane CBD and is hampered by poor public transport, with shuttle buses needed to transport spectators in and out of the venue during the Olympics. While Victoria Park is just 1.5km from the city and within a 20-minute walk of three train stations.

Stadium Photo

In a statement, the Premier said his government had accepted 27 of the 30 recommendations from the independent Sport Venue Review for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The findings have identified new opportunities to deliver value-for-money for Queenslanders, while supporting the government’s legacy vision. At its core, the government’s response prioritises community benefit while ensuring costs remain within the agreed funding envelope of $7.1 billion to be shared between the State and Commonwealth governments.

The Government will now explore upgrades to QSAC and Suncorp Stadium while continuing to deliver the new state-of-the-art Brisbane Arena, securing benefits for more than 30 sporting facilities across Queensland, and exploring exciting opportunities for new transport connections in Brisbane as part of a revamped plan to enhance community legacy.

The decision means the future of the Gabba is in question. Significant investment will be required to keep the home of AFL and cricket in Queensland, which is already regarded at the lower end of top tier stadiums in the country, up to standard.

In the report, Graham Quirk declared the Gabba is a “very, very bad stadium” where back-of-house facilities were cramped and substandard and people with a disability had limited access.

He said some $500 million would be needed to keep the Gabba operational until 2030 and then $1 billion to bring it up to modern standards.

“Even if you keep it going beyond that (2030) date with some upgrades, at some stage, the Gabba was going to need to be replaced and it is never going to be a tier one stadium because of the limitations of space,” he said.

Mr Quirk said costs to fix these problems would not provide value-for-money, with a new $3.4bn stadium at Victoria Park touted as the best option.

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The proposed new stadium at Victoria Park to serve as the main venue for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics has been ruled out, despite it being recommended as the preferred solution.
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