Dreams on track: Sunshine State gears up for ‘coming of age’ Olympics
Queensland is considering transforming an inner-city Brisbane greyhound track into a 50,000seat stadium as the centrepiece of its 2032 Olympic bid, as the IOC locks in behind southeast Queensland as preferred host for the Games.
The International Olympic Committee could confirm Brisbane as the winner as early as July, after sidelining rival bidders Doha, Budapest, a Rhine-Ruhr German bid, and the Chinese cities of Chengdu and Chongqing.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said hosting the Games would be a coming of age moment for Brisbane, which held the Commonwealth Games in 1982 and was beaten for the 1992 Olympics by Barcelona.
“It gives every single one of us hope that it puts Brisbane firmly on that international map, and we can actually give hope to our young students right across the nation that they could compete in an Olympics here in Queensland in 2032,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said the IOC was impressed the state already had up to 90 per cent of venues, but said a new stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies was still on the cards.
“There is the option of one new big venue in terms of where we would have the opening ceremony … but we may use Carrara (Gold Coast’s Metricon stadium) as well,” she said.
The state’s draft venue masterplan, released by the IOC on Thursday, confirms a business case is being considered for a Brisbane Olympic stadium, an athletics and ceremonies venue that would seat 50,000 people in inner-city Albion.
The site is currently home to a
greyhound and trotting track.
The Gabba cricket ground — across the Brisbane River from the CBD and close to the planned new Cross River Rail public transport project — could also be overhauled, with the Carrara stadium earmarked as a fall-back home for athletics and Brisbane’s Suncorp a possible ceremonies venue.
Ms Palaszczuk promised any new infrastructure would not be a white elephant, and would rely on joint funding from all three levels of government.
“We don’t have to build huge stadiums that are not going to be used in the future,” she said.
Under the IOC’s “new norm” reforms, hosts are encouraged to use existing venues and infrastructure, and construct temporary seating and sites.
Australian Olympic Committee boss John Coates said the Games would be cost-neutral, with the IOC promising to chip in $US1.7bn, and another $1bn to be generated from ticketing and $1bn from national sponsorship.
“That’s a large contingency there,” Mr Coates said. “That’s enough then to pay for both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games without any call on state or federal or local governments.”
He told The Australian that Brisbane’s bid could make do with Carrara or Suncorp, and a new stadium should not be built exclusively for the Games.
“And I have to be very careful as the IOC representative not to say that a stadium is a must. But if it is something that Brisbane should have so that it can compete for other events …”
Queensland’s venue masterplan, which says the Games would be held between July 23 and August 8, 2032, pitches three main sporting locations: Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. There would be two Olympic villages, in existing hotel accommodation on the Gold Coast and a new 14,000-bed development in Brisbane.
Sailing could be held in the Whitsundays, Ballymore rugby stadium has been earmarked for the hockey, football and rugby would be hosted at Suncorp, and beach volleyball would be at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast.
The federal government’s representative on the 2032 taskforce, Fairfax MP Ted O’Brien, said any new stadium needed to be “a project of no regrets”, necessary for the community regardless of the Games. “We have to be consistent with the IOC’s new norms encouraging hosts not to invest unnecessarily in assets for the purpose of hosting the Olympics.
“The days of the host changing to fit an Olympics are gone — now the Olympics are changing to fit the host.”
Head of the southeast Queensland council of mayors Mark Jamieson, one of the earliest proponents of the bid, backed the idea of a new Brisbane stadium.
“It would be a wonderful legacy that would be left after the Games,” said Mr Jamieson, the mayor of the Sunshine Coast. “Who doesn’t love going to the Gabba or Suncorp? I think Brisbane can expect to get a third stadium, if not more.”
A senior source close to Queensland’s 2032 bid said no decision had been made on whether a new stadium was needed: “Those who argue the hardest for a new stadium should put their money where their mouth is.”
Refurbishing the ageing Gabba would have the benefit of having ready-made summer and winter tenants in AFL and cricket, and it is close to the Woolloongabba train station.