Let’s be real – the previous Palaszcuk-led Labor Government hadn’t exactly run the smoothest Olympic program to date. Where was the independent Olympic organising committee that was meant to be set up by the former premier and minister for Olympic Games Annastacia Palaszcuk?
Whether you like it or not, we’ve got the Olympic Games, and now we must deliver them and show the world we can host it in a smart way, independent and removed from the political equation and with the future of this city in mind. More importantly for those who disagree with the games, let’s see these games as a way to build infrastructure that we otherwise wouldn’t be getting.
Fortunately for Brisbane, the city was given the longest amount of time ever to plan for the games in history. Usually host cities only get seven years from the time the games are awarded to the actual event. We still have eight long years before the games start, which is more than enough time to plan and construct infrastructure.
The Olympic Stadium
I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water with the refurbishment of the Gabba stadium. Let’s face it, in 10-20 years, the Gabba stadium will need a refurbishment anyway. It is a well used and popular stadium for many people in Brisbane. Home to the Brisbane Lions, Queensland Cricket Club and does on occasion host massive music concerts like Adele back in 2017.
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Delaying a refurb of the Gabba will actually cost us more money in 20 years time when a future government five election cycles from now decides that the aging concrete structure needs refurbishing.
John Coates recent idea to use the ancient QE2 stadium which sits in an outer suburb of Brisbane with no mass transport links or anything to do surrounding the stadium as the main stadium would be a tragic waste of an opportunity we have to make Woollooongabba a truely amazing precinct and suburb in ten years time.
Cross River Rail
Not using a brand new $6.5 billion Cross River Rail line in any capacity for the Olympics is absurd. The new underground station will be connected to the entire SEQ railway network and will be world class – on par with other Olympic precincts constructed around the world which all have had rail connections. QE2 in Nathan has no such public transport links and using buses to get people in and out would be an absolute disaster and embarrassment.
Now if you want to get bold and out there, I would say let’s build a new stadium at Northshore Hamilton and then connect it to a new East-West subway line connecting Brisbane up the way it should. However, that wouldn’t help the Gabba, which would sit there aging. Don’t get me wrong, Brisbane needs an east-west subway regardless, and one would think the Olympics would be an enabling factor to build such a line but the Gabba refurb, not rebuild plan does make sense.
World class cities need updated sporting venues, the same way Suncorp Stadium was refurbished in 2001 for $280 million. Could you imagine the cost if it wasn’t done back then and was being upgraded now? The Gabba is at that same point of needed an upgrade. Our city of almost 3 million people only has two stadiums, its not an outrageous or lavish idea to keep the two we have upgraded and on par with Sydney, Melbourne or Perth stadiums.
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Stephen Miles getting the former LNP Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk to review the Woolloongabba plan is a stroke of genius as it strangely in a way instantly de-politicises the stadium refurbishment or rebuild, if that is what they decide.
This one really gets me. Don’t lump Brisbane Live into the Olympics. Period. Brisbane Live was proposed way before the Brisbane Olympics was a thing and should continue regardless of the games. The idea of the inner city arena was floated because the city needs it. I think every Brisbanite can agree that the Boondal Entertainment centre has had its day, is in the wrong place and a new arena in the CBD makes sense for music events or otherwise.
The federal government has agreed to fund this arena completely, money that would have otherwise come from the Queensland Government budget if it weren’t for the Olympics.
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As a disclaimer, for those reading this thinking that refurbishing a stadium is a waste of money because we need to be building social and affordable housing as well as more mass transit and smaller local community events. Yes, funding needs to be increased on all of that too.
However a refurbished Gabba stadium won’t and shouldn’t stop government funding for all of those things. If anything, the Olympic movement should be making the government act on fixing the city’s growing homelessness problem and investing in more mass transit.
The greens proposal (seen below) of the area adjacent to the stadium (the former go print site) has some good ideas and would be quite cool, but so too would a refurbished stadium. So why can’t we do both? and make this future Woolloongabba precinct an incredible place to live, work or visit.