The former home of National Rugby League (NRL) club North Queensland Cowboys, 1300SMILES Stadium, is set to be demolished and redeveloped into a new police precinct, the state government has announced.

Fulfilling an election commitment to undertake a comprehensive examination of the possible future uses for the ageing complex in Townsville, the Queensland government will now build a multi-purpose police facility, at a cost of A$30m (£15.9m/€19m/$21.5m).

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “Keeping residents safe and creating jobs are two of my greatest priorities – this project ticks both boxes. This facility will be state-of-the-art. We’re investing in the Queensland Police Service to put more officers in the field and give them the resources they need to do the job.

“The new facility will service Kirwan and surrounding areas and potentially become the base for a number of units that service the wider Townsville Police District. We’ll continue to invest in new infrastructure here in Townsville to support growth, create jobs and ensure locals feel safe and supported at home.”

The new police facility will represent the first stage of the proposed multi-stage redevelopment on the substantial parcel of land. Demolition of the stadium, which opened in 1994 and hosted its last event in 2019, will be staged in the middle of the year, with construction on the new police hub set to commence in 2023.

The Cowboys moved into their new home in March 2020, as COVID-19 began to take hold across the world. The 25,000-seat Queensland Country Bank Stadium was developed at a cost of A$290m and has 7,000 more seats than 1300SMILES Stadium.

Image: 1300SMILES Stadium