Australian Olympic Committee president Ian Chesterman has supported calls to scrap the proposed Gabba redevelopment for the 2032 Brisbane Games, believing there are ‘more creative solutions’ available.
Chesterman’s comments came a day after Olympic powerbroker John Coates also said to abandon plans for a $2.7bn rebuild because ‘it doesn’t stack up” financially.
‘The (International Olympic Committee’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,’ Chesterman said.
Chesterman said the AOC supported the review of Games plans, on the same day Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner declared the Gabba rebuild was ‘dead, buried and cremated’, with the Greens calling on the Premier to axe the plans.
‘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.’
IOC vice-president Coates called for the rebuild to be axed with the opening and closing ceremonies instead held at Suncorp Stadium, with the athletics at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre.
An artist’s impression shows what could have been had the Gabba been fully rebuilt for the 2023 Olympics
AOC president Ian Chesterman has supported calls to scrap the Gabba’s redevelopment
Cricket stands to be the biggest loser with the Gabba slipping to fifth in the Test venue rankings following the Adelaide Oval rebuild and construction of Optus Stadium in Perth
The looming decision leaves cricket as the ‘biggest loser’, according to News Corp veteran journalist Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock.
The venue was hopeful of gaining access to marquee Australian matches once redeveloped but could be stuck with lesser Tests, behind the freshened-up Adelaide Oval and still-new Optus Stadium, plus the MCG and SCG in much bigger cities.
‘It sentences the Gabba to be the fifth best venue in Australia for the next 20 years,’ Craddock told SENQ Breakfast.
‘It’s a real setback because (the Gabba) were counting on this and now it’s gone.
‘The redevelopment of the Gabba just became political poison, especially with a (state) election coming up this year.
‘Both sides of politics were terrified given the public is more concerned about (the perception of) youth crime, cost of living and housing.
‘Redeveloping a stadium was very much down the list.’
The Brisbane Lions are the main tenant of the Gabba and face a nervous wait to see if they will have to find a new home while work is carried out on the venue for the Olympics
There have been protests against the Gabba rebuild by locals who want to save a neighbouring school from demolition
Also awaiting the findings of the review are the Brisbane Lions, who play their home matches at the Gabba.
While the Lions had no comment to make on Thursday, a statement issued by the club in November last year said it supported a Gabba redevelopment.
‘The venue has been our home for the past 30 years and the redevelopment ensures it will be fit for purpose for the next 30 years,’ Lions chairman Andrew Wellington said.
‘As a club we’re likely to hit 60,000 members in 2024, we’re the hirer attracting the largest crowds, we’ve had seven sellouts this year and I have no doubt we will be filling the new Gabba on a regular basis prior to the Olympics and for years to come.
Brisbane Heat fans are hanging out to see the Gabba’s fate as well after winning the Big Bash League in 2024
The Gabba’s future is in limbo with the Olympics now likely to share several venues instead of focusing on the one
‘We understand the need and also the wider benefits this project and associated urban renewal works will bring to the city and the wider precinct as a result of projects like Cross River Rail.
‘There’s benefit here for commuters, event goers, new community spaces and the delivery of a commercial and a residential precinct inclusive of affordable housing opportunities.
‘We look forward to receiving a more detailed Gabba update and a decision on the Lions’ displacement venue from government in the near future, recognising the needs of our many fans and the extended period of displacement.’
However, both the Lions and the Gabba’s other tenants, Queensland Cricket, baulked at being asked by the state government to contribute millions of dollars to help fund an upgrade to the Brisbane Showgrounds, which had been as the home ground for the Lions and the Queensland cricket team while the Gabba was being developed.