The Council of Mayors for South East Queensland (SEQ) has today (Friday) unveiled a feasibility study into a mooted bid for the 2032 summer Olympic Games, including the prospect of new stadia in anchor city Brisbane.

SEQ is planning a region-wide bid based on the use of existing and planned facilities to keep costs at a minimum. The masterplan envisions Brisbane providing 21 venues, with the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast each providing five facilities, Ipswich and Toowoomba two, and Redland, Moreton Bay and Logan council areas providing one venue apiece.

The main Olympic Village would be located in Brisbane with satellite villages in the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. While outlining that a site for the Olympic Stadium will require further analysis, the study has identified a future need for a smaller, rectangular stadium in Brisbane to supplement Suncorp Stadium. This would be built as a 25,000 – 30,000 capacity stadium, allowing for temporary adaptation to increase the seating capacity to 55,000 at Games time.

The study states that the operational budget for an SEQ Games would be approximately Aus$5.3bn (£2.89bn/€3.32bn/$3.78bn), which would be offset by International Olympic Committee (IOC) contributions of Aus$1.7bn and projected domestic revenue of Aus$2.7bn. SEQ claims this would result in a net operating cost for an Olympic and Paralympic Games of Aus$900m, stating the equivalent figure was Aus$1.2bn for the Gold Coast’s staging of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The study states that South East Queensland already has 60% of the venues needed for the 2032 Olympic Games, with the potential for 30% more to be delivered as the region continues to grow. Where there is no community need for a venue, the study recommends that lower cost temporary venues should be utilised.

SEQ Chair and Brisbane Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk, highlighted that the Olympic Movement is currently going through a period of reform and cost-cutting that could see SEQ reap the economic and social benefits of a Games without the expensive price tag. “The IOC is now encouraging hosts to reduce venue sizes, rethink transport options and reuse existing infrastructure,” said Quirk.

“It was the IOC’s cost cutting reforms that first attracted the SEQ Mayors to investigate this opportunity. We were keen to see whether SEQ could deliver a cost-effective plan to host the Olympic Games by reusing the region’s existing facilities, and in turn, creating a catalyst for infrastructure delivery and job creation.

“This study has shown that SEQ could mount a successful bid without the need to build venues just for an Olympic Games. In doing so, we would be able to keep costs to a minimum while maximising the potential benefits and legacies for the region.

“While the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games was a great demonstration of Queensland’s ability to deliver world class events, ticket sales for an SEQ Olympic Games would be at least five times greater and the value of the international exposure generated for our region would likely be in the multiple billions.”

Commenting further on the stadium situation, Quirk told broadcaster ABC that Brisbane needs an additional stadium, which could host at least 55,000 people, but officials need to keep plans in-house at present. He added: “That would give our opponents down the track information. We do need a new stadium, there’s no question about it.”

The Mayne rail yards at Bowen Hills has been touted as a potential site for an Olympic Stadium, but Queensland’s Deputy Treasurer Jackie Trad said this would come with “lots of complications”. She told the Brisbane Times newspaper: “We’re talking about a site that was being used as a stabling facility, a railway infrastructure asset for more than a century. There’s going to be a lot of contamination issues. This is also a site that is essentially a swamp, as well.”

Commenting on today’s study, Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk said: “First and foremost, there would have to be agreement on all levels of government.

“Secondly, we would have to see a very strong contribution from the federal government, the likes of which we saw for the Sydney Olympics, and we have not had any of those conversations with the federal government. And thirdly, I don’t think Queenslanders want an Olympics just concentrated in the south-east. We’re a very big state and it would have to be inclusive of Queensland.”

The study recommends that a decision on whether to bid for the 2032 Olympics should be confirmed prior to the Tokyo 2020 Games, with the host anticipated to be announced by the IOC in 2025.

Image: Visit Brisbane