Need for sta­dium queried

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY

THE chair­man of Townsville City Coun­cil’s sports com­mit­tee plans to cam­paign against mov­ing the North Queens­land Cowboys to the CBD.

In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor Pat Ernst, whose di­vi­sion takes in 1300SMILES Sta­dium, has re­leased a news­let­ter say­ing the sta­dium should be “fixed up” in­stead of start­ing again in the city.

“There have al­ways been lin­ger­ing doubts within the com­mu­nity around the claims that 1300SMILES was in such dis­re­pair and in ur­gent need of re­plac­ing,” Cr Ernst said in his July news­let­ter.

“Yes, it needs some up­grades but I be­lieve with some money spent on the essen­tials, it would have a life of another 15- 20 years. The play­ers are happy with it, the broad­cast­ers are happy with it and most im­por­tantly, the fans are happy with it.”

A 2013 busi­ness case found 1300SMILES re­quired more than $ 78 mil­lion in re­pairs and up­grades over the next 20 years, find­ing it was more fea­si­ble to build a new fa­cil­ity in the CBD. The State Gov­ern- ment has al­ready com­mit­ted $ 100 mil­lion to­wards a CBD sta­dium ex­pected to cost about $ 200 mil­lion.

Cowboys chair­man Lau­rence Lancini said the club’s long- term vi­a­bil­ity was threat­ened if it couldn’t find a new home.

He said sta­dium’s cor­po­rate fa­cil­i­ties – in­clud­ing en­ter­tain­ment ar­eas and cor­po­rate boxes – weren’t up to stan­dard, mean­ing the club was los­ing out on spon­sor­ship dol­lars to other NRL clubs.

“Su­per­fi­cially, you could do works to fix up the tem­po­rary prob­lems, but … to up­grade it to a stan­dard that would be suf­fi­cient to meet all rel­e­vant codes would be an enor­mous cost,” he said.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said build­ing a sta­dium and con­ven­tion cen­tre in the CBD would be bet­ter value.

“It’s very easy to take a pot shot from the side and take a neg­a­tive po­si­tion – what we’re talk­ing about is a plan for job cre­ation for those mums and dads in Kir­wan,” Cr Hill said.

Cr Ernst ruled out run­ning for mayor af­ter ear­lier this week say­ing he was con­sid­er­ing the op­tion.

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