New $1b Stadium: Gabba to be rebuilt as main Olympic stadium

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Architectural rendering of proposed new Gabba Stadium

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has today revealed the Gabba as the proposed main stadium should Queensland host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Under initial plans unveiled by the Government, the Gabba would essentially be demolished and a $1 billion main Olympic oval stadium rebuilt in its place.

The Premier said the Gabba has been home to Queensland sport including cricket and AFL for 126 years.

She said it was time to write a new chapter for its next century which hopefully includes the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Architectural rendering of proposed new Gabba Stadium
Architectural rendering of proposed new Gabba Stadium. Concept image by Populous.
Architectural rendering of proposed new Gabba Stadium. Concept image by Populous.

But to take it to that level will need the continued support of all levels of government including the Commonwealth.

“Every games needs a home,” the Premier said.

“A home for the 2032 Olympic Paralympic Games could be its crowning glory.

Formally known as the Brisbane Cricket Ground, the Gabba was been earmarked for upgrade because:

  • It is already well-used for AFL, cricket and other events
  • Is existing infrastructure already connected to the SEQ busway network
  • Is centrally located and
  • Will have its own Cross River Rail station already under construction connected to the stadium.

A potential upgrade would increase capacity to around 50,000.

It would also include a new pedestrian plaza linking the stadium to the Cross River Rail station which is currently under construction.

The Premier said having a main stadium two kilometres from the CBD gave Queensland an advantage other Games hosts haven’t had.

As a result, the Premier said, the entire city would become a games venue with hundreds of thousands able to share the atmosphere whether they were inside the stadium or not.

Thousands will be able to board trains at a new Albert Street station in the city and arrive at the stadium in as little as three minutes.

This made the games more accessible to people with disabilities and the elderly.

The Premier said the pedestrian plaza could become a games hub of its own with concerts and even medal presentations.

“I can see the river lined with people watching big screens all taking part in the fun and excitement of the games,” the Premier said.

“There’s South Bank leading to West End which is connected to Roma Street via the Kurilpa Bridge with a new bridge under construction for the new Queen’s Wharf development.

“There are city cats offering even more options for transport.

“All of this is infrastructure we already have.”

Minister for Sport and Minister Assisting the Premier on the Olympics Stirling Hinchliffe said the Gabba is a work-horse, not a white elephant.

“It’s used on average for 40 weeks of the year with major sports played in summer and winter including international sport,” the Minister said.

Brisbane Stadium Designing firm Populous had provided concept designs for a possible Gabba upgrade.

Director Chris Paterson said the Gabba satisfied the three rules of good development: location, location, location.

“Brisbane already boasts the world’s best rectangular stadium in Suncorp Stadium.” Mr Paterson said.

“This is an opportunity to compliment it with the best round field stadium right in the centre of the city.”

The Gabba would join Cairns, Townsville, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast as games venues with 85% of already built.

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  • God I hope this is not the final design. Completely unremarkable and just another bland soulless building for Brisbane. From what I’ve seen so far I hope QLD doesn’t get the Olympics – I fear we will just embarrass ourselves. Completely lacking in identity, ambition and creativity – not just the stadium…

  • Very unexciting… It’s got nothing on recent stadiums built in Australia, in terms of design and capacity. Perth stadium seats 65,000 and looks a lot better. This is definitely not world class and already looks subpar, imagine what it will look like in 2032!

  • Why would you build a modern stadium and not have a retractable roof. Lions played there in the pouring rain just last Saturday, you can avoid that in a modern stadium and give a better fan experience.

    Also, it would be good to see a curtain that can be pulled along the top tier so that the capacity can be reduced down to say 25k.

    Lastly, it would be ideal if this stadium could change configurations from oval to rectangular quickly and easily so all sports could utilise it.

  • In hindsight it makes sense to use the gabba for the Olympic stadium. For prestige reasons Qld gov need to to make this a min 65k seat stadium. It’s quite pathetic that Adelaide and Perth are preferred test cricket grounds over the gabba these days. Qld government should he thinking long term and not trying to be cheap and visionless to save a buck.

  • As far as location it is perfect, but unfortunately that is it.
    Based on the rendering pictures the design is nothing to shout about, it is missing something, not bold enough, not big enough and missing a roof.
    Im sure we can afford and deserve something better, don’t sell us cheap.

  • This is a disgusting waste of money. A poor execution of design and site usage. There are far better resolutions to upgrade this facility and spend far less money.

  • Not much bang for your buck if it’s going from 42,000 to only 50,000. That may be enough to satisfy Cricket Australia but it’ll be the smallest Olympics venues in recent history if there isn’t an option for additional seating.
    Something like Sydney’s olympic stadium (110,000 capacity!) where the wings were demolished after the games were over.

  • State of the art stadiums being built these days have a roof or 100% of their seating under cover. This will not be taken seriously in a supposedly “new world city”. And it seems we still haven’t learnt the lesson from the epic fail with the location of Suncorp – trying to squeeze a big stadium on a small site or residential area where it will look out of place and generate regular complaints from local residents. If you want an appropriate inner-city site it would have been in the Exhibition grounds where there’s a train and busway station on site or right next door.

  • I appreciate this is only a concept proposal / announcement. Details around environmental performance and architectural design will be published later hopefully.

    In response to this, the location seems logical. The proposed cost is a major concern – state government needs to be careful with infrastructure spending over the coming 10 years. Without a strong business case study, stadium infrastructure projects should not be supported by the taxpayer at this time. This is one of the reasons why the federal labor government introduced Infrastructure Australia – a statutory authority to overhaul reform, planning, development and investment in the nation’s future.

    In addition, my understanding is that the IOC criteria has evolved for a number of reasons, and while the Brisbane/SE QLD application is fulfilling that criteria successfully, this particular proposal is taking two backward steps.

    Does the Gabba need to be redeveloped for $1b of tax payer’s money? Or do we need to further invest $1b into Brisbane’s public transport infrastructure for the Games? In terms of legacy creation and environmental sustainability, pretty sure public transport is the way to go!

  • Lame, lame, lame! It will be an international embarrassment if this is the best we can do for an Olympic stadium

  • A much better concept would be to stop wasting money on a demolish-reconstruct refurbishment and just build an entirely new stadium directly over the cross-river rail construction site.

    The construction site is similar in size and positioning the stadium here would allow for even better public transport access (e.g. the elevated pedestrian bridge over Main St would no longer be required.)

    This would also allow for a more olympic-sized stadium (65 to 80,000 capacity.) Plus, the old Gabba could still be used during the lengthy construction phase.

    Other benefits include allowing the Brisbane Primary School space to expand: Demolish the old Gabba stadium and there’s room for a public park or school oval. Or at the very least developer friendly high-rise space, since there’s no tunnels obstructing their basement requirements.

  • Quite a few whiners here. Concept looks great, perfect location, stadium capacity is spot on, what are people really complaining about?

    It’s time for the federal government to step up. Are you listening Scomo? Queensland needs a partner and we’re all watching you..

  • Qld Government cut funding to our Ruths Women’s Shelter here in Cairns who are turning women away they are so full. This announcement that they are spending $1 BILLION on renovations to the Gabba football oval makes me furious. WTF people should come first.

  • Needs a roof and hold a lot more than an extra 8000 seats. Better off to do a deal with the Brisbane Lions at their reserve site at Springfield and build a whole new stadium that holds 60 to 80 thousand people that will be a dedicated AFL stadium when the Olympics are over. Let the cricket club have the Gabba

  • This is an enormous missed opportunity. The adjacent site over the proposed train and metro station would be an ideal site for the stadium and it could be a 65-80,000 seater with a roof. One of the major drawbacks to going to a cricket match at the Gabba in summer is either rain interruption or being baked Chernobyl style.
    The paucity of thinking going on here is astounding! The current site is a disaster in terms of access and would be better suited to a mixed use site of parklands and a new high school and expanded state school.
    There is one chance to get this right and the State Government has rushed this decision and it shows.

  • It doesn’t have to be expensive, or ultra modern, but it definately has to look better than the renderings. They could build the stadium surrounded by green area and trees to constrast the CBD. Please don’t make anything generical like London Olympic stadium or tacky like Beijing bird’s nest. And keep always in mind the legacy mode. London could have built its Olympic Stadium keeping in minds that only a football team would use the stadium after the games and done something like Manchester did, with the Commonwealth Stadium. Instead they built a venue to be dismantled after the games, and it turned out that the part that was supposed to be permanent needed to be remade, so the seats could move closer to the pitch and back, and the temporary seats became permanent, they needed to redo the roof and the facade also.
    Best advice: built for the long term legacy and adapt it for the 2 week event, not the other way around.

  • I have to agree with Greg. What a waste of money.. Knock down and rebuild the Gabba and only increase the seating by 7000. We need to build a Perth Optus size stadium.

  • A new Gabba needs to suffice as a venue for at least another 30 years after the Olympics. Build it with seating capacity of 70-75000, or lose all major cricket and sporting events to the other states with bigger stadiums.

  • I agree with most of the comments.

    I’ve just looked up the specs for the gabba redevelopment for the first time after reading an article about Queensland Cricket wanting Alan Border field modernised to utilise while the new Gabba is being constructed.

    I too am underwhelmed at the possibility of spending 2.7 billion on a stadium to be completed in 2032 for a 2 week event that then will be home to the Brisbane Lions AFL and to the Queensland Bulls & Brisbane Heat cricket not to forget the annual test match played by the Australian Test team, ODI’s and T20’s.

    Brisbane is Australia’s fourth largest city and as such it borders 4 of the biggest cities with in an hour’s drive from Brisbane CBD in Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Ipswich and Morten Bay Shire so the capacity of the stadium doesn’t fit the needs of what a World Class Stadium should?

    75,000 to 80,000 capacities should be the target and Brisbane Lions should push for this as any finals in a one club city they host would be a magical event for them and enable this club to compete with the bigger clubs for revenue and prestige? You may pretend that Queensland is a rugby league state but I’ve lived here 25 years having moved from Melbourne and can see the local competitions that span across the Gold Coast through Brisbane and Brisbane’s West north to the sunny coast completely over shadow numbers played by the opposing football code?

    In 2032 you’ll need a stadium bigger than 50,000 to house the Brisbane Lions members alone?

    And it’s just not a big number in 2023 to build a stadium to the capacity of 50,000? Doesn’t matter if it’s brand new the more people that the facility holds the greater the spectacle!

    If you want to compete for attention in major events that come Australia’s way you need to think bigger?

    I’m not overly fussed about a roof for a Brisbane Stadium when the weather is beautiful one day perfect the next but you need training facilities for cricket, as in an outside area accessed by players from opposing cricket teams to congregate and practise with in netting, and it should have some pazazz! It should shine like a diamond, sparkle and present like the lures of a poker machine and share the grandure of a modern day coliseum!

    If you can’t build it to a minimum of 60,000 plus row of corporate and sky boxes, then it isn’t worth building because in 10 years time the population is going to be huge in that city alone, not factoring the cities and shires around it that will venture to the facility once the 2 weeks of the Olympics is over. I personally don’t watch the Olympics or Commonwealth Games and could care less about them, but I understand that you need to build a facility that stretch from 2030 to 2060 and a capacity of 50,000 isn’t going to get the job done in terms of pulling power for events or be noticed on a world stage?

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