A-League club Brisbane Roar is reportedly eyeing a move to a new purpose-built $60 million boutique stadium, potentially within the next three years.
The news comes as the club seeks to again play at least three home games at Dolphin Stadium in Redcliffe next season, as it continues to struggle attracting crowds to the 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium.
The World Game website reported the Roar is in negotiations with an existing centrally located venue about a comprehensive redevelopment which could be completed within three years to provide a viable alternative to their current home ground.
The exact location hasn’t been revealed due to confidentiality clauses in the proposed public/private partnership, however it’s believed to be near the Brisbane CBD with existing transport links and infrastructure.
The $60 million rectangular stadium would have a capacity of 12-17,000 and would require state and federal government backing, along with support from Stadiums Queensland.
A Stadiums Queensland taskforce released a report in December 2018, recommending that no new boutique stadium should be built in the state, despite numerous calls for one. Brisbane Strikers had announced plans for a Perry Park redevelopment prior to pulling out of the A-League expansion race.
Club vice-chairman Chris Fong said they are looking at taking an existing sporting venue and reconfiguring it to an exceptional standard and believes the stadium will be the template all A-League clubs should aspire to.
A redeveloped Ballymore Stadium or Perry Park have long been mentioned as a possible future home for the Roar, but Fong appears to have ruled them out by claiming the proposed new venue was not "one of the usual suspects".
It’s believed Brisbane Roar’s break-even crowd figure written into their tenancy agreement at Suncorp Stadium is 13,000. The club is averaging 10,540 so far this A-League season, with its highest attendance 12,859 in their first home game of the season against the Victory. Since the inception of the A-League in 2004, the club has averaged attendances of 13,261 from 188 games at the stadium (including three sold-out Grand Finals).
With Queensland planning to bid for the 2032 Olympics as well as Australia’s 2023 Women’s World Cup bid, a new boutique venue could play a major role in the city’s sporting infrastructure.
In the meantime, the club is exploring playing more home games at Dolphin Stadium after a successful first A-League game at the 10,000-capacity stadium earlier in the season. Fong has said the cost-factor of playing at the 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium had become too much of a financial risk for the club.
Suncorp Stadium management allowed the Roar to schedule three of their home games at Dolphin Stadium this season, with the first match against Melbourne City attracting a sell-out crowd of 9,387 and producing an electric atmosphere.
The Roar won 4-3 with coach Robbie Fowler believing the atmosphere helped his team and if it was up to him, the club would play every home game at the boutique stadium next season.
While that is unlikely, it is hoped the club may be able to play more than the three matches it is scheduled to play at Redcliffe this season. The next A-League fixture will be played at the venue on February 22 against Perth Glory.
Stage three of the Dolphin Stadium redevelopment commenced last week and will include the construction of a new 3170-seat northern grandstand, increasing the total capacity to 11,000, including seating for 10,000.
Suitable venues have been an issue for the A-League, which has seen a decline in crowds in recent years. Adelaide United is essentially the only club playing at an exclusive venue – Coopers Stadium. New club Western United is planning to build a purpose-built stadium in the west of Melbourne, but construction is yet to commence, with funding private funding seemingly the issue at this stage. Sydney FC has played at smaller venues, including Jubilee Stadium, with success since Allianz Stadium was demolished.
While Suncorp Stadium is regarded as one of the best rectangular stadiums in Australia, its size does impact smaller events and the problem isn’t immune to the A-League, with the Queensland Reds also experiencing similarly low crowds at the venue.