World Cup bid may boost Dairy Farmers
Townsville's major sporting venue, Dairy Farmers Stadium, would almost double in capacity as part of a bid to bring the 2018 or 2022 Football World Cup to Australia.
The stadium's 26,500 capacity would be increased to 40,000 capacity to meet the requirement of the sport's governing body, Federation Internationale de Football Association's (FIFA).
Newcastle's Energy Australia Stadium, Carrara on the Gold Coast, Canberra's Bruce Stadium and a venue in Sydney's west would also be redeveloped.
Sydney's ANZ Stadium and Sydney Football Stadium, Melbourne's MCG and Etihad Stadium, Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium will top the list to host games with at least 12 stadiums needed.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) is already in advanced discussion with bosses of rival codes AFL and NRL to take an eight week mid-season break during the June-July tournament to free up the venues.
Stadiums Queensland yesterday said they would support upgrading Dairy Farmers Stadium as part of the push to lure the biggest sporting spectacle in the world Down Under.
"The Queensland Government has indicated in-principle support for the FFA bid and we are working with the Commonwealth and other state and territory governments to consider the FIFA bid requirements and the implications for government," a spokesman said.
Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell said an upgrade of Dairy Farmers Stadium to a 40,000 seat world-class venue would rubber-stamp the city's credentials to host major events.
"I think it is a great recognition that we are being considered to host those sorts of matches," he said.
"We had a couple of matches for the Rugby League World Cup and we had three matches for the Rugby Union World Cup and obviously our capacity to host those major events has led to us being considered for a Football World Cup.
"It indicates that the State Government has confidence in the city and the stadium to host those events."
Dairy Farmers Stadium's long-serving tenants the North Queensland Cowboys would benefit the most from a major upgrade as would its newest tenants the North Queensland Fury.
North Queensland Cowboys executive director Peter Parr welcomed talks of an upgrade but said he hoped it would take place before 2018.
"Stadiums Queensland has been very supportive over the last number of years," he said.
"We have been in continual dialogue with them to continue to upgrade the stadium, in particular the western grandstand.
"We are hopefully that something would happen before 2018 but if the soccer world cup was to come here and if that was the catalyst for it to happen that we would obviously be all for it."
The stadium has transformed significantly since the two former councils chipped in $3 million and the State Government $500,000 about a decade ago to raise it from the dirt.
Cr Tyrell said the community was responsible for the transition.
"The stadium arose from an obsolete greyhound racing track and a large part of the work which was done to transform to a rugby league stadium was done by local people," he said.
"People who had heavy equipment graders and things like that to do the work and at the end of the day I think some of the players even laid some of the turf, it was very much a community effort."