Brisbane Olympics 2032 - QLD Government Stadium choice failure

Nathan Hildebrandt 21 March, 2024

Since the announcement of the Olympic Games coming to Brisbane in 2032, I was optimistic about the legacy that this event would leave, and the launch pad it would have for positive development and help meet the needs of a growing city.

Brisbane Olympic Stadium Fail

This morning I was invited to share my thoughts on Radio with Paul 'Camp' Campion from River 94.9 you can listen to my interview here...

As a sports lover, I have experienced events in major stadiums across Australia, and I spend a lot of time at the Gabba following the Brisbane Lions. Ever since the announcement of the redevelopment of the Gabba, I have really questioned this as being the right solution for our city. I posted on Instagram back in September 2022 here…

AFL Grand Final at the MCG

AFL Grand Final at the MCG

After attending the AFL Grand Final how I think we need to look at this from a different angle. I then took the time in January 2023 to document my thoughts and rationale here… 

Archipelago's Bold 32 Victoria Park Master Plan

Archipelago's Bold 32 Victoria Park Master Plan

Fast forward to 2024 and Peter Edwards and Archipelago release their BOLD plan for Brisbane which in a similar manner to my idea, embraces Victoria Park as the centrepiece for the 2032 Olympics and in my opinion delivers an incredible legacy for the city of Brisbane. Their proposal is what Brisbane needs to transform itself and become the world-class city it wants to be. See their BOLD plan here… 

Sport Venue Review by Graham Quick

On Monday morning the 60-day independent review was handed down by Graham Quirk. It is worth the read if you want to understand the full picture and removal of media bias. The key recommendation in the review was to scrap the rebuild of the Gabba and that a new 55,000-seat oval stadium be built at Victoria Park. Most of the other recommendations were expected and in line with the direction already proposed. The benefit of this review was that it included details on findings across each of the options, significant stakeholder engagement and budgetary costings. Read the review here…

Later that afternoon the Premier announced that they would not proceed with the recommendation to build a new stadium at Victoria Park. They decided to spend $1.6B at QSAC to upgrade it for the Athletics. If you read the Quirk review, this option was thoroughly investigated and rejected (commencing from page 24). The Government in their announcement advised that they will be investing $1B in maintaining Lang Park and the Gabba till 2032.

Let’s pretend for a second that there isn’t even going to be an Olympics in Brisbane. If you read the findings on the Gabba (from page 17) you will learn that the stadium is reaching its end of life, and based on site constraints is not an ideal venue for hirers. $400-500M is suggested as a cost to keep the venue operational until 2032. Without another oval-shaped stadium in Brisbane, this will have to be funded by the Government anyway!

As an asset it will then be in a position in 2035-45 where it will reach its designed end of life, what is the solution for its replacement, when the site isn’t appropriate for a modern stadium the size Brisbane needs?

Lang Park is in a similar situation where the Government will need to fund the operational upgrades whether there is an Olympics or not. The investment in these facilities is just smoke and mirrors by the Government and it is not spending on the Olympic legacy at all. It is operational spending by Stadiums Queensland to maintain the stadiums to a level of service that the hirers and users expect or need as part of general business.

Moving to the $1.6B for QSAC, $1B of this value is required solely for Olympic required infrastructure. Temporary infrastructure that provides no legacy to the community. Just doesn’t stack up. Now people would argue that in times where money is tight, only spending $1.6B instead of $3.4B is a more financially sensible thing to do. If the Olympics were not held at QSAC what would be the true level of investment that is required to facilitate it into the next 20 years? Would the investment need to be as high as $600M?

Now is the time to make that tough decision and build the brand-new stadium in Victoria Park. It will never be any cheaper to build the stadium we need. It will enable funding from the Federal Government and the IOC to contribute to the costs. If it is built outside of the Olympics window, funding opportunities will be lost, and the Gabba needs to be demolished in the next 10-20 years anyway. As I suggested in my article last year, education needs in the inner city are higher than ever before. Expand on the existing school and introduce affordable housing onto the Gabba site to utilise cross-river rail.

Let’s wait and see how this all plays out after the October election and see if a new government fixes this stupid decision.

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