Jobs in the tourist industry will be a major winner when the Queensland Government completes the redevelopment of the Gabba next year, Premier Peter Beattie announced Tuesday.
"Deputy Premier and Sports Minister Terry Mackenroth will oversee the work which will increase the Gabba's capacity by 5,000 to 42,000," said Mr Beattie.
"It will be paid for by the levy on poker machines and not by taxpayers.
"Terry is planning for work to start immediately after the last Australian Football League match at the Gabba this year and finish in time for the first AFL fixture in 2005.
"It means the Gabba stadium will go full circle and be one of the most attractive cricket and Aussie rules grounds in the country, with world-class facilities.
"And it means we will be able to attract up to 5,000 extra fans to Brisbane for the big cricket and AFL games, which is good news for jobs in the tourist industry.
"The present gap in the stadium has been a talking point for several years and my Government is going to finish the job to give it a similar capacity to Sydney Cricket Ground.
"The Gabba is the home of the Brisbane Lions and the Queensland Bulls and has staged some of the most memorable moments in Queensland's sporting history.
"The redevelopment of the old ground is 85 percent complete with the Brisbane Lions Social Club building in the south-east corner to be the main construction site.
"The end result will be a modern and better-looking Gabba, complete with increased corporate facilities and improved spectator movement around the stadium.
"It could potentially pinch more major events from New South Wales and Victoria including one-day cricket matches and AFL fixtures."
Mr Mackenroth said components of the overall project included:
- An extra 5,000 seats increasing overall capacity from 37,000 to 42,000;
- Additional corporate suites and dining facilities to replace the ageing Brisbane Lions Social Club (Brisbane Lions corporate facilities were virtually sold out for the 2003 season);
- Direct vehicle access onto the playing surface to allow for "drop-in" cricket pitch blocks in the future if required;
- Better team bus access into the stadium;
- Improved patron circulation around the stadium;
- Improved visibility along the lower tier of the southern stand; and
- Automated turnstiles around the ground, similar to those at Suncorp Stadium.
He said the project was expected to take approximately six months and would involve demolishing the Brisbane Lions Social Club building and constructing the remaining nine bays of the sixty-two bay stadium structure.
"The project cost is still unknown as we need to prepare final design plans before calling for tenders," Mr Mackenroth said.
"Full costs will be announced once contracts have been entered into.
"However, the funding will be sourced from a loan repaid through the Major Facilities Levy, which is placed on gaming machine revenue in hotels with high turnover.
"This means that funding for the redevelopment will not come from taxpayers so it will not have an effect on Government services or infrastructure."
Mr Mackenroth said the appropriate documentation would be prepared to call for tenders and attain the necessary development approvals.
He said the timing of the project would minimise the number of major event days affected to only one limited-overs cricket international featuring Australia.