Fresh doubts have emerged over the planned redevelopment of The Gabba ahead of the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane after the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said there are “more creative solutions” available than rebuilding the stadium.
On January 18, the Queensland Government launched a 60-day review into the venue infrastructure plan for Brisbane 2032, with the redevelopment of The Gabba one of the projects being assessed.
Former Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk is leading the independent review, which is focusing on both new and upgraded venues to ensure they deliver value for money and community benefits across Queensland.
It has been proposed that The Gabba will undergo A$2.7bn (£1.4bn/€1.6bn/$1.8bn) worth of redevelopment ahead of the Games, with the venue to be fully demolished and rebuilt. The design process for the new-look venue is due to occur this year, and the deconstruction is set to commence in 2025 with a view to the stadium reopening in 2030.
In a statement released today (Thursday), AOC president Ian Chesterman said the governing body “fully supports” the review process.
“The IOC’s New Norm process is designed to ensure the Games are both affordable and sustainable, with a strong preference for the use of existing or temporary facilities,” the statement added.
“We believe there are other, more creative solutions than rebuilding The Gabba for the Games which provide a legacy for our sports and even greater access for fans to an exceptional Olympic and Paralympic Games. We will put these ideas to the review committee.”
The statement was released after John Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee and former president of the AOC, revealed that he had told the committee that plans for The Gabba should be abandoned.
In an interview with NewsCorp, Coates said that while the Olympic movement had community support, “now suddenly we’re on the nose in Brisbane”.
Grace Grace, Queensland’s Minister for State Development and Infrastructure, has rejected Coates’ claims and does not feel his comments supersede the review, the findings of which will be released on March 18.
“He’s a very respected and knowledgeable man and I will take John Coates’ advice,” Grace said, according to ABC.
“I’m not going to pre-empt the review. I know you’re trying to ask me a question: is it [the Gabba redevelopment] dead? This is a clean slate. And I welcome all stakeholders’ feedback into it.
“I don’t think it’s fair on the reviewers for me to express an opinion now, when they are working through all of the stakeholders’ submissions that have been received and are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the report.”
Adrian Schrinner, the current Lord Mayor of Brisbane, has also spoken out against plans for The Gabba, stating that it was “not the right option”.
The IOC approved Brisbane as the host of the 2032 Olympics back in July 2021. At the time, redeveloping The Gabba was expected to cost A$1bn, but this figure rose to A$2.7bn as the Australian and Queensland governments last February unveiled a A$7bn funding agreement to overhaul the state’s sporting infrastructure ahead of the Games.
The Gabba project has proven contentious, with heavy criticism from local community and political groups, chiefly focused on the need to demolish and relocate the nearby East Brisbane State School.