Four architecture firms have been shortlisted to become the principal consultant for the development of a new stadium for the North Queensland Cowboys Australian NRL rugby league club.

BVN Architecture, Cox Architecture, Hassell and Populous have made the cut from an original selection of 17 companies that entered the running for the Aus$250m (£154m/€172m/$189m) project.

The stadium is set to be built within the Townsville City Waterfront Priority Development Area between Ross Creek and Saunders Street.

The Queensland government has pledged Aus$140m towards the 25,000-seat stadium, with the federal government committing Aus$100m through its Smart Cities Plan. The Cowboys and the NRL will also provide Aus$10m.

The Cowboys’ current home, the Willows Sports Complex, is a converted greyhound racing track.

Queensland’s Minister for State Development, Anthony Lynham, said that the shortlisted companies had “all demonstrated a proven track record in major sports stadiums.”

The winner of the tender will be announced by the end of this year. Building work is scheduled to begin by the middle of 2017 and be completed ahead of the 2020 season.

The North Queensland Stadium project is being jointly developed by the Queensland government, federal government and Townsville City Council.