Plans to rebuild Brisbane’s beloved Gabba Stadium to serve as a major venue for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics have been scrapped.

And further consideration of a possible new stadium at Victoria Park has been ruled out despite being recommended in a government ordered review.

On Monday, the Queensland Government announced that it had accepted 27 of the 30 recommendations that were contained  final report from the 60-day Independent Review of Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Infrastructure led by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.

In particular, the Government has accepted a review recommendation to scrap a proposed $3 billion rebuild of the beloved Gabba.

As a result, the Gabba will not be used for the opening and closing ceremony during the Games.

However, the Government has also rejected a recommendation to fully demolish the Gabba after a different new stadium is constructed in a different location (likely at Victoria Park) and to move cricket and football matches to the new venue.

Instead, the existing Gabba stadium will remain in operation for AFL and cricket matches.

The venue will undergo more modest maintenance and enhancement work in consultation with key stakeholders.

The Government has also rejected a review recommendation to further consider options for a new international-grade stadium at Victoria Park.

However, it will consider options to upgrade the existing Queensland State Athletics Centre (QSAC) and Suncorp Stadium.

This will occur whilst the Government continues to deliver the new 15,000 seat Brisbane Arena that will serve as a one of the aquatic venues during the games.

The Brisbane Arena development will proceed with the venue now in a new location at the Roma Street Parklands.

The opening and closing ceremonies will be moved from the Gabba to Suncorp Stadium.

(Options to upgrade Suncorp Stadium will be examined. The stadium will now host the opening and closing ceremony for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics.)

The latest announcements follow completion of a 60-day independent review of the infrastructure that is to be used for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane.

Under the Government’s original plan, a total of 37 venues would be used to host 28 Olympic and 22 Paralympic sports.

This included construction of six new venues as well as significant upgrades to an additional eight venues.

A further 16 existing venues would be used along with five temporary venues and three non-competition venues.

The review was announced in January amid concerns about cost blowouts and the need to derive best possible value within the allocated $7.1 billion in capital works to be shared between the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments.

A key part of the plan involved a knock down and rebuild of the beloved GABBA Venue.

The rebuilt venue had been slated to host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as track and field events for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

However, concern about the project has grown amid cost blowouts which had seen the original cost of $1 billion triple to around $3 billion.

This does not include a further $185-$360 million in costs that would be incurred as AFL and cricket matches would be displaced.

The review found that there are many problems with the existing venue, which has not had any major upgrades in 25 years and is no longer fit for purpose or compliant with current building codes.

In particular, the venue has severe problems regarding accessibility for those with wheelchairs or other disabilities.

In addition, the venue’s back of house operations are compromised by poor connectivity and a lack of space or facilities for stadium hires, staff, athletes and other stadium users.

However, the review panel found that the planned rebuild of the venue would be severely compromised by existing space constraints.

These arise as the venue sits on an island land parcel which is constrained on all sides by Vulture Street, Stanley Street, Mains Road and Wellington Road – all major inner-city roads.

This restricts the stadium’s footprint and the ability to redevelop or expand.

As a result, the review found that even a full Gabba rebuild would not deliver to the brief of an Olympic stadium.

These issues could not be designed out or resolved in a new stadium in the current location, it found.

The review also examined the potential for a new greenfield venue to be constructed at Victoria Park.

In its report, the panel found that Victoria Park would likely have significant potential to deliver a new stadium that could meet requirements of an international standard venue on a greenfield site that would enjoy good transport links.

This could likely be delivered at a cost of $3-$3.4 billion – a slightly higher price tag compared with the Gabba rebuild.

It recommended that this option proceed to ‘Project Validation Report’ stage to further explore whether or not this could potentially be a suitable option.

However, the Government has rejected this recommendation.

In a statement, the Government said that significant further work would be required in order to understand the opportunities and costs involved in developing the new park.

Furthermore, the Government did not believe that it would be possible to deliver a new stadium within the existing funding agreement with the Commonwealth.

It noted IOC findings that the construction of the new stadium would sit outside the ‘new norm’ of using facilities that are either existing or already planned.

There were also concerns about any new stadium encroaching on existing green space at the park.

(Construction of the new Brisbane Arena will go ahead. The 15-seat Arena will host aquatic events during the Games)

In a statement, Queensland Premier Steven Miles said the review and response will deliver a venue arrangement that would deliver lasting benefits for Queensland.

“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,” Miles said.

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

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


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