Goodbye Gabba: QLD schedules stadium demolition ahead of Olympics

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
5 Min Read

Brisbane’s iconic Woolloongabba stadium is being torn down and rebuilt in preparation for the city’s Olympic Games in 2032. 

On Friday, Queensland state’s Deputy Premier Steven Miles confirmed the 2.7 billion Australian dollar redevelopment of “The Gabba” would go ahead after the government accepted a project validation report.

Calling the stadium a ‘tired venue’, Miles said the rebuild would increase the seating of the stadium to 50,000 (8000 more than the current capacity) and give punters access to a new underground railway station. 

“The Gabba’s 128-year history makes it iconic for Queensland, this redevelopment will ensure a lasting legacy to be enjoyed for another 128 years and beyond,” said Miles.

“We’re going for the best bang-for-buck and giving Queenslanders a new, modern stadium with all the finishes because it is the best value for money and will deliver much more than a stadium.  

“Having a modern, safe, accessible, and globally recognisable stadium will help draw more national and international events, and we know one concert can produce up to $5 million in visitor spending in our economy.”

Construction will take four years, starting after the Gabba hosts an Ashes cricket test match against England in late 2025 and completed in 2030.

A local primary school will be relocated to make way for the stadium’s bigger footprint. Cricket teams and the city’s Brisbane Lions will also be temporarily relocated during the building phase.

According to Miles, the planned stadium rebuild is just a small part of a complete “urban renewal project” that will turn Woolloongabba into a South Bank-esque city hub. 

“The Woolloongabba redevelopment, along with Cross River Rail and the Brisbane Metro, will anchor a major redevelopment of Woolloongabba to maximise the benefit of public investment and deliver more housing including social and affordable housing, more jobs, and better connectivity,” said Miles. 

“We could see another 880 or more apartments delivered in the precinct alone, as well as retail and dining.

“Plus, with at least 50 percent of the precinct set to be open space and a Walkable Spine from the Gabba to Roma Street via South Bank, there will be more for locals and visitors to enjoy.”

The Deputy Premier also said the upgrade will fuel an estimated 2,300 jobs during the peak of construction in 2028, which he hopes will create an economic impact that will flow throughout the state.

Not everyone is a fan, though. Local community and political groups held a “Rethink the Gabba” rally over the weekend, calling on the government to halt the demolition of the stadium and the nearby East Brisbane State School

“Today’s rally is a clear message to the government that the community is deeply concerned about the proposed redevelopment of the Gabba and resulting costs to Queenslanders and impacts on East Brisbane State School, and Raymond Park,” said the group. 

“Residents are calling for a more transparent and inclusive approach that prioritises community needs, considers alternative solutions, and preserves the heritage and character of these cherished landmarks.

“The proposed redevelopment, which includes demolishing the existing stadium and building a new one, has raised concerns about the unnecessary expense and the potential loss of the Gabba’s unique character.”

The government has invited the community to participate in a survey about the PDA and give feedback on the idea of a new name for the project, which Miles has already dubbed “East Bank”. 

While fueled by the upcoming Olympic Games, upgrades to the Gabba were already planned after a 2018 Stadium Taskforce Report found that the stadium would come to the end of its useful life by 2030. 

The initial Brisbane Olympic bid in 2021 said the city already had 84 per cent of Olympic venues in place to avoid excessive government spending and potential ‘white-elephant’ projects.

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.