Design & Development

Gabba revamp scrapped following review of Brisbane 2032 venue plan

Featured image credit: Queensland Government

The Queensland government has opted to scrap a planned revamp of The Gabba and ruled out the possibility of building a new stadium at Victoria Park after an independent review of the venue infrastructure plan for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane was released today (Monday).

The review, which was launched on January 18, has been led by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk. The planned A$2.7bn (£1.4bn/€1.6bn/$1.8bn) redevelopment of The Gabba was one of the projects under assessment.

The review recommended replacing The Gabba with a new stadium at Victoria Park that could seat 50,000 fans during the Olympics and have a legacy capacity of 55,000. The review estimated the cost of the stadium at between A$3bn and A$3.4bn, but the Queensland government has rejected this proposal.

In a statement released today, the government said it does not believe it would be possible to deliver any new stadium at Victoria Park within the existing agreed funding, while the International Olympic Committee also noted that a new stadium would not be in line with the “new norm” of using existing or already planned venues for the Games.

Instead, a more “modest” enhancement of The Gabba will be pursued in consultation with the AFL, Cricket Australia and other stakeholders. AFL and cricket matches will continue to take place at the stadium and East Brisbane State School will not need to vacate its current site by the end of 2025, but the government noted that future works to the stadium are expected to impact the school and has vowed to work closely with the community as these plans develop.

The government will also investigate upgrades to the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre (QSAC) and Suncorp Stadium, with the latter to host the opening and closing ceremonies. Originally, The Gabba was scheduled to host the ceremonies.

The government accepted 27 of the 30 recommendations made by the independent review. The planned Brisbane Live arena will still go ahead, albeit at a different location on the Roma Street precinct.

More than 900 submissions were received during the review, while the panel held 130 meetings with stakeholders, assessed numerous sites, and conducted 28 site visits.

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 independent review stated that the cost of the rebuild had increased further to more than A$3bn.

Fresh doubts emerged over the redevelopment of The Gabba as the Australian Olympic Committee last month said there were “more creative solutions” available than rebuilding the stadium. The deconstruction had been set to commence in 2025 with a view to the stadium reopening in 2030, but the rebuild will now not go ahead.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said today: “My government will accept 90% of the recommendations made, for the benefit of Queenslanders right around the state. One of their recommendations would have meant the demise of The Gabba, which is something we couldn’t accept for such a beloved venue.

“And while the concept of a new stadium at Victoria Park has merit, the uncertainty around final cost means it is unfortunately not an option. 2032 is one of the greatest opportunities to put Brisbane and Queensland on the map and leave a legacy for generations to come.”

Grace Grace, Queensland’s Minister for State Development and Infrastructure, added: “Victoria Park is highly valued by the community, and we have no plans to spend billions of dollars to encroach into that green space.

“With the review completed, we’ll be wasting no time with getting on with the job with a range of venues proceeding through to the next stage of delivery. Venues at the Sunshine Coast – the Indoor Sports Centre, stadium upgrade and Mountain Bike Facility, as well as the Chandler precinct projects can now progress to procurement with others following soon after.”