Sunshine Coast Stadium stakeholders continue push for upgrade
The Sunshine Coast Council and supporters of the proposed Sunshine Coast Stadium upgrade remain hopeful of securing funding from the Federal Government to allow the project to go ahead.
The stadium expansion project has widespread support, securing $20 million in funding from the Queensland Government, $11 million from local philanthropists and $17 million from the Council, however stakeholders are also aiming to secure a $20 million contribution in the Federal Government budget.
A further $20 million in funding was required from the federal government for the $68 million project to proceed, but at this stage, the funding hasn’t been committed in the budget, which is due to delivered in the next two weeks.
With a population of more than 330,000 people, and the second highest forecast population growth rate in Queensland through to 2041, the Council has an ambition to develop a stadium that will have the capacity to stage international and national sporting, recreational and entertainment events. The upgrade will boost the stadium's seating capacity to 12,000.
Rugby league legend and local business owner Billy Moore is hopeful the Federal Government would come through with funding, commenting “if we’re lucky enough to get the funding, it will give us the opportunity to create jobs right now, and when it’s finished it’ll be great for local businesses, event organisers and sporting clubs, so it would be a shame to see the project shelved.
“If we miss out on this Federal Government funding, it puts the project at risk and then the whole region misses out - and how long we’ll continue to miss out is unknown and that’s not a great prospect for our growing region. The lost economic benefits will be huge.”
Stakeholders see an upgraded stadium as a missing piece of economic and community infrastructure for a region the size of the Sunshine Coast and its projected growth.
Local philanthropists Roy Thompson and Rod Forrester have pledged a combined $11 million towards the project, on the condition that the Queensland and Federal Governments contribute $20 million each and commit to do so before the end of June.
Australian Sports Foundation Sports Partnership Manager, Chris Bond, said Thompson’s pledge is the largest philanthropic contribution to any of the thousands of sports projects the Foundation has assisted in the last 30 years.
“The $11 million combined philanthropic pledge to the stadium expansion project presents an incredible opportunity and could leave a lasting legacy for generations to come” Bond said.
“The pledge will also help the Australian Sports Foundation support more grassroots programs in the region, which is an extraordinary opportunity for all involved, and it would be devastating if it was lost.”
Speaking from experience as a Paralympian who will be off to his third Paralympics in Tokyo come August, Bond said the venue expansion had been designed to cater for all abilities to enhance the event day experience.
“The proposed design features additional lifts, seating platforms that are advantageous to people in a wheelchair, or not able bodied. The viewing experience and access will be awesome and with the potential Brisbane 2032 Olympics so close to home, this expanded stadium could be a critical component” he said.
“The opportunity to host Olympic events in the region and at Sunshine Coast Stadium has so many benefits and the venue will be a much-needed asset.
“If the $11 million philanthropic contribution is lost, it will also indirectly impact grassroots sport in the region, as the Australian Sports Foundation will have less capacity to support local clubs in need.”
The venue became the temporary home for the Melbourne Storm during the Covid-affected 2020 NRL season, hosting six home games, while the Rabbitohs will play a home game on the Sunshine Coast in July this year.