Queensland grandiose plans for the ‘Gabba’


Australia Brisbane The Gabba will be home of 2032 Olympics Image: Queensland Government

The ‘Gabba’ (Australia) is set to become the high point of the 2032 Olympic Games, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and athletics, provided Brisbane’s bid to be the host city is successful.

‘ABC News’ stated that South-East Queensland is on track to host the 2032 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in the wake of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) naming Brisbane its preferred bid in February this year.

The 42,000-capacity Brisbane Cricket Ground, commonly known as the ‘Gabba’, is a major sports stadium in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia. The nickname ‘Gabba’ derives from the suburb of Woolloongabba, in which it is located.

A final decision on Brisbane’s bid is expected to be made as early as July, ahead of Tokyo 2021.

If Brisbane is selected, it will be the first Olympics Games to be hosted in Oceania in more than 30 years. Queensland’s 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Taskforce revealed that the Games could generate about 130,000 direct jobs and tens of thousands of indirect jobs, particularly in tourism.

In its value proposition assessment, it estimated the economic benefits of the Games for the State at about $7.4 billion, with “social and community benefits” lasting for potentially two decades.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the stadium would likely be upgraded to be made a 50,000-person facility and she anticipated the redevelopment would cost “around the $1 billion mark”.

‘ABC News’ further quoted Palaszczuk as stating, “Every game needs a home. The ‘Gabba’ has been home to our sport since 1895. A home for the 2032 Olympic Games could be its crowning glory. The ‘Gabba’ would be completely rebuilt and raised up and it’s going to be sensational.”

She added, “We’ve had some of the best Olympic architects in the world Populous that have done this design and it is phenomenal. It is so exciting. The Cabinet could not believe what they were seeing. They endorsed it and we’re making sure the rest of the nation gets to see it.”

The upgrade would include a new pedestrian plaza linking the arena to Woolloongabba’s new Cross River Rail station, which is presently under construction.

Palaszczuk said the plaza could bring about a sea change in the area as a games hub and could be used to stage concerts and medal presentations – “I can see the river lined with people watching big screens, all taking part in the fun and excitement of the Games. There’s South Bank leading to West End, which is connected to Roma Street via the Kurilpa Bridge, with a new bridge under construction for the new Queen’s Wharf development.”

The Premier added, “There are CityCats (ferry services) offering even more options for transport. All of this is infrastructure we already have.”

Palaszczuk said the upgrades would need the continued backing of all levels of Government, including the Commonwealth.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the announcement was “very consistent with what the IOC has been saying, and also consistent with what we’ve been saying, which is use existing venues. The ‘Gabba’ had needed an upgrade for quite some time. The Olympics is the project that will bring that to light. Not many Cities have a stadium so close to the central business district (CBD) and so accessible with multiple forms of transport – there’s so many boxes that it ticks.”

Schrinner said a 50,000-seat capacity was a “good sweet spot in contrast to Sydney’s 2000 Olympics Stadium, which they very rarely have been able to fill up ever since. Getting these improved facilities as part of the Olympics is the outcome we all want to see. It’s things that we will need on an ongoing basis. That’s why we’re not building a 100,000-seat stadium.”

The ‘Gabba’ would join 19 existing earmarked venues for the Games. They include sites in Cairns, Townsville, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

School issue

Woolloongabba resident Michael Arndt said he thinks the stadium upgrade would be good for the area – “The ‘Gabba’ is in desperate need of renovations”.

Brad Francis liked the idea of having the world’s best athletes on his doorstep, but both residents pointed out that the reconstruction would create more traffic and noise.

Stated Francis, “We already get a lot of that with traffic and events at the ‘Gabba’ so it would be a frustration, but the opportunity to see some of the world’s best athletes, most people I’m sure would allow for that.”

He also had a child attending the 122-year-old East Brisbane State School, which sits in the shadow of the ‘Gabba’.

While the State Government has assured that the school’s heritage buildings sitting near the stadium would be saved, no decision has yet been arrived at as to whether the teachers and students will have to relocate.

Added Francis, “There’s a lot of history and it’s a very community-based school. So, it would be sad to see it relocated, but would really like to see more of the proposal.”

Scott Mouat – parent of a child attending the school – is keen to hear how the school will be affected – “I guess there’ll be a lot of road closures. They’re going to have a major international event right next to a small local primary school. It will be disappointing if the school itself moves away but it’s a very upcoming area and there are more and more people so the school has to expand in some way.”

Why the ‘Gabba’?

The ‘Queensland Government’ stated that formally known as the Brisbane Cricket Ground, the ‘Gabba’ has been earmarked for upgrade because:

  • It is already well-used for Australian Football League (AFL), cricket and other events;
  • The existing infrastructure is already connected to the South East Queensland (SEQ) busway network;
  • Is centrally located; and
  • Will have its own Cross River Rail station already under construction connected to the stadium.

‘The Queensland Government’ further quoted Premier Palaszczuk as stating that the entire City would become a Games venue with hundreds of thousands able to share the atmosphere whether they were inside the stadium or not. Thousands will be able to board trains at a new Albert Street station in the City and arrive at the stadium in as little as three minutes. The smooth transportation network will make the Games more accessible to people with disabilities and the elderly.

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