Premier scraps costly Gabba rebuild project

By Jarrod
5 Min Read

The controversial rebuild of Brisbane’s beloved Gabba stadium has officially been scrapped after a review found taxpayers weren’t seeing their “value for money”.

The cancellation comes after Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk’s 60-day review of the state government called for a $3.4 billion stadium to begin construction in Victoria Park to replace the Gabba project and serve as the 2032 Games centrepiece.

It said the proposed 50,000-capacity stadium could be completed in three years and was a better legacy investment with the potential to rival the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

But Premier Steven Miles shot down the idea, instead opting to upgrade Suncorp Stadium and the 49-year-old Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC), which was the home of the Commonwealth Games in 1982.

“This Review was one of my very first acts as Premier of Queensland and was driven by what Queenslanders told me was important to them – bang for buck and a lasting legacy,” he told reporters on Monday.

“No one wants to see money spent on facilities that are only needed for four weeks.”

The Premier claimed this new direction would deliver “decades of benefit” to local schools, community athletics programs and Olympic and Paralympic athletes in 2032 and beyond.

A controversial upgrade

While the QSAC upgrade would be a considerably cheaper 1.6 billion-dollar alternative, the review claimed the development of an aging QSAC would be “very hard to justify.”

The report cited transport and access to QSAC—a 20-minute drive from Brisbane’s CBD—during the Games as being “extremely challenging and costly to facilitate,” recommending that it not host Olympic track and field events.

But Mr Miles backed calls from International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates for a QSAC revamp, saying the government had been working on the plan for weeks.

“We will upgrade the Queensland sport and athletics complex to be the nation’s best athletics facility,” he said.

“I know the review rejected that option on the basis of the Olympic access costs – the IOC has committed to me that they will work with us to minimise those requirements.”

Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee President Andrew Liveris applauded the Premier’s roadmap, saying the upcoming Olympic Games must “fit the region, not the region fit the Games”. 

“We acknowledge the Queensland Government’s actions in accepting the majority of the independent review’s recommendations and urge due diligence across venues and infrastructure to be completed quickly and in consultation with stakeholders.”

Minister Grace Grace said that with the review finished, they would be “wasting no time” with getting on with the job of upgrading and delivering a range of venues along the state’s coastline.

“Victoria Park is highly-valued by the community, and we have no plans to spend billions of dollars to encroach into that green space,” she said.

“Venues at the Sunshine Coast – the Indoor Sports Centre, Stadium Upgrade and Mountain Bike Facility, as well as the Chandler precinct projects can now progress to procurement with others following soon after.”

The last years of the Gabba?

The review on Monday said the now almost 130-year-old Gabba was in “poor condition” and estimated a redevelopment would likely blow out to almost $3.4 billion.

“The Gabba will reach the end of its life by 2030,” Mr Quirk told reporters on Monday.

“Even if you keep it going beyond that date with some upgrades at some stage the Gabba is going to need to be replaced and it is never going to be a tier one stadium because of the limitation of space.”

But, depending on the QSAC revamp, Mr Miles said a smaller $1 billion upgrade would be assigned to Suncorp Stadium and a “modest enhancement” of the Gabba to continue its lifespan. 

“One of their recommendations would have meant the demise of the Gabba, which is something we couldn’t accept for such a beloved venue,” he said

“The iconic Gabba will always be a stadium.”

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By Jarrod
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.