Need for stadium queried
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.