Queensland Government commences Gabba Stadium venture

Images: Queensland Government

The Queensland Government is seeking out design and construction partners for the complete redevelopment of the Gabba Stadium after the project to transform the venue into the centrepiece for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games was approved.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles today (Friday) announced completion of the Gabba Stadium Project Validation Report (PVR), with the historic cricket and Aussie rules football venue set to become the focal point of ‘East Bank’, a new name for the broader Woolloongabba urban renewal precinct, which covers much of the suburb.

The PVR provides detail on how The Gabba will be fully deconstructed and rebuilt to support Queensland’s long-term sport, community, and entertainment needs before, and for decades after, Brisbane 2032.

In 2018, before the successful bid for Brisbane 2032, a Stadium Taskforce Report found that The Gabba is a ‘tired’ venue that would come to the end of its useful life by 2030, indicating a rebuilt Gabba should be considered irrespective of the Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved Brisbane as the home of the 2032 Games in July 2021, culminating a process that stepped away from the traditional contests for the hosting rights. At that time, redeveloping The Gabba was expected to cost A$1bn (£523m/€601.7m/$656.8m), but this figure rose to A$2.7bn as the Australian and Queensland Governments in February unveiled a A$7bn funding agreement to overhaul the state’s sporting infrastructure ahead of the Games in Brisbane, focusing on redevelopment of The Gabba and construction of the new Brisbane Live arena.

Of the four options considered in the PVR, Queensland today said the one selected not only provides the best value for money, but also hits the mark on all four key pillars, including being a catalyst for sustainable urban renewal, investment and ability to attract and host world-class events.

The rebuild sits within the Woolloongabba Priority Development Area (PDA), that will see the rebuilt Gabba Stadium, Cross River Rail and the Brisbane Metro connect to South Bank, the Brisbane CBD and new Brisbane Arena via a walkable spine, an active travel corridor to South Bank plus Brisbane City Council’s new green bridge.

The Government said procurement processes for the Gabba rebuild are commencing with industry briefings set to take place next month. The design process will occur in 2024, with deconstruction set to commence in 2025.

A targeted completion has been set at 2030 meaning that existing Gabba tenants, Australian Football League (AFL) team Brisbane Lions and Queensland Cricket, will be without a major inner-city venue for five years.

Queensland’s Deputy Premier, Steven Miles, said: “The Gabba’s 128-year history makes it iconic for Queensland, this redevelopment will ensure a lasting legacy to be enjoyed for another 128 years and beyond.

“This isn’t just about a stadium upgrade. This is about anchoring an urban renewal project that will see Woolloongabba transformed like South Bank was transformed for Expo 88.  The Woolloongabba redevelopment, along with Cross River Rail and the Brisbane Metro, will anchor a major redevelopment of Woolloongabba to maximise the benefit of public investment and deliver more housing including social and affordable housing, more jobs, and better connectivity.

“We could see another 880 or more apartments delivered in the precinct alone, as well as retail and dining. Plus, with at least 50% of the precinct set to be open space and a Walkable Spine from the Gabba to Roma Street via South Bank, there will be more for locals and visitors to enjoy.

“We’re going for the best bang-for-buck and giving Queenslanders a new, modern stadium with all the finishes, because it is the best value for money, and it will deliver much more than a stadium. Having a modern, safe, accessible, and globally recognisable stadium will help draw more national and international events, and we know one concert can produce up to A$5m in visitor spending in our economy.

“The upgrade will create an estimated 2,300 jobs during the peak of construction in 2028, the economic impact will flow throughout the state.”

The Gabba, formally known as Brisbane Cricket Ground, has a current capacity of 42,000. The new-look venue will have:

  • 50,000 seats, with potential for greater than 50,000 seats in legacy mode depending on the sport and between 50,000 and more than 70,000 for concerts
  • Better viewing through an enhanced design to provide a 360-degree fan experience
  • Larger entries and concourses for better admission
  • Better connectivity and accessibility throughout, including lifts and escalators
  • Two pedestrian bridges across Main Street to form the ‘station to stadium’ connection between the stadium and the Cross River Rail station, as well as a pedestrian bridge over Stanley Street
  • Improved, appropriate and accessible athlete, team and official changerooms
  • Team facilities with direct access to pitches and practice wickets
  • Cutting edge technology and lighting
  • An internal service ring road to improve movement during events
  • Improved administration, operations and event day facilities that will boost efficiency
  • A range of new premium products including dining options, members spaces, and food and beverage outlets
  • Retail offerings inside including merchandise stores, and retail opportunities on the streets outside the stadium
  • International media facilities
  • Sustainability aspects like targeting a 6 Star Green Star rating, sustainable energy and water consumption within the stadium
  • Seamless connection to the broader precinct, currently being master planned to create a new mixed-use precinct with increased greenspace, retail and dining.

However, the project has been a contentious one with heavy criticism from local community and political groups, chiefly focused on the need to demolish and relocate the nearby East Brisbane State School. Indeed, a “rethink the Gabba” rally is set to take place this weekend opposing the venture.

In September, the Queensland Government rejected calls for a review of plans to redevelop The Gabba, while officials behind the delivery of the 2032 Games in August defended the scheme during a federal inquiry into Australia’s preparedness to stage the Olympics.