19 April 2024

Anything's possible in an election year, so take a punt on your own fab project

| Ian Bushnell
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Imagining the new Civic stadium

A stadium in the city? The Canberra Liberals are keeping the dream alive. Photo: GHDWoodhead.

Promises, promises. Don’t you love election years? All of a sudden, governments and oppositions can do anything.

A few hundred thousand to keep a football team going? Why not?

Put a stadium in the city? Sure.

Dash off letters to the PM requesting multi-millions for a precinct here and a precinct there? You bet.

It’s only April, and there are six more months until election day.

READ ALSO Don’t tie stadium funding to Bruce, Lee tells PM

This week alone, we heard about three letters to the PM, two from Chief Minister Andrew Barr and one from Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee, and both the ACT Government and the Liberals had announcements about a lifeline for the women’s football team, Canberra United.

A miffed Lee says the government got wind of her rescue plan and gazumped it, but Capital Football doesn’t care. It’s got the money, at least for another season. What happens after that is anybody’s guess, but it won’t be an election year.

Barr wrote to Albo for a couple of 50/50 funding deals for a new stadium in Bruce, and it’s got to be there, and surprise, surprise, a convention centre and entertainment pavilion on the Civic pool site, you know, where the stadium wouldn’t fit.

Lee cranked out her own missive about the stadium, saying, “Hang on, just give us the money, and we’ll decide what kind of stadium and where it will be built”. Replying is probably not too high on Albo’s to-do list.

As far as Lee will say, the Libs want a stadium in the city, not Bruce. It’s an economic no-brainer, and everybody wants it there.

Save Canberra United signage

They’re happy, at least for another season. Photo: Facebook / Save Canberra United.

But it’s not quite a commitment. They’re talking to stakeholders, looking at the options and tossing up the numbers – $500 million to $800 million. When it comes to where in, or how close to the city you can plonk a 30,000-seat stadium, the Libs are keeping mum.

We’re told they’ll have more to say closer to the election when asked whether they still want to look at the pool site despite Barr’s feasibility study knocking it on the head or whether they have somewhere else in mind.

If it is the Civic pool site, I guess you can engineer anything with enough money. Maybe they’ll throw in a convention centre for Senator Pocock.

But take a look.

There’s not much more vacant land around unless Commonwealth Park comes into play.

So I can’t wait for what Lee might offer to the mob and whether it will be more than just punting a plan in the air. I hope it stays afloat until polling day.

The ACT Government loves a precinct. We can’t just have a stadium at Bruce. It’s got to be part of a grand plan to bring together the AIS, CIT, UC and even the new hospital, not to mention housing.

I guess, this way it’s got more of chance of jagging the Federal money it needs and finding some offsets for the costs.

But it seems nobody loves Bruce.

Then, there is the convention centre precinct. It’s now going to include the current convention centre and the pool site. That one kind of makes sense, but it came out of the blue after we were told it was going on the old Australia Forum site next to City Hill.

READ ALSO ACT seeks co-funding deal for convention centre precinct on Civic pool site

So what else do we need? Let’s not talk about light rail. What about a new National Aquatic Centre? A National Concert Hall by the lake to replace Llewellyn Hall?

Just put a ‘National’ in front and see what happens.

It’s less than a month until Federal Budget Day, so in a couple of weeks or maybe sooner, we can expect some ‘announceables’.

Will there be some co-funding deals in the mix? Andrew Barr will hope so.

One thing is a sure bet: whatever is unveiled over the next six months, it will be a while before anything happens, if at all. Maybe after a feasibility study or two.

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So the idea is to replace a 20,000 seat stadium, that rarely sees anything close to a capacity crowd, for another 20,000 seat stadium? So that the crowd can spill over to the city bars, etc post match? Why? The cost versus use is simply not there, even with concerts. If Canberra actually had the interest and population, you would fill in that part of the lake nearest the National Museum, and build one at least double the current size. The whole “if you build it, they will come” theory was an iconic line in a decent movie, that’s about it.

The ACTGovernment knows that they can promise anything without ever having to deliver because the ACTSheep will always vote them in.

Democracy is about the voice of the majority, not the angry and very vocal minority, of which you are obviously a part.

JS, in Federal and state Labor politics, the noisy minority almost always usurps the majority. Just remember the far left squeaky wheel gets the most attention

So like the noisy tory wannabes and national nutjobs ultimately dictate LNP party policy too, despite both being minority elements?

The LNP don’t introduce Bills to see your comments removed (or worse) to express your opinions online

“ Just remember the far left squeaky wheel gets the most attention”
Could that be because, in a democratic election, Fp, the majority of the electorates fall that way? You do understand the concept of democratic elections don’t you, Fp? At the last election you were part of the noisy minority.

Baaaa! Well then, maybe this time the ACT Liberal party will be serious about wanting to govern and come up with feasible and reasonable alternatives rather than complaining, and undoing things already voted for such as dare I say…light rail. Until then the sheeple of the ACT as you say, will always vote for the lesser of 2 evils because we won’t let religious zealots and corrupt businesses run our city just to stick it to Labor. Off to be shawn, just like a good little sheep, baaaa!

GrumpyGrandpa7:11 pm 21 Apr 24

It’s all so easy for governments and would-be governments to promise the world, knowing that the taxpayer (or future taxpayers) will pick up the tab.

Whether its light rail, sports stadiums, aquatic centres, convention centres or concert halls, someone pays.

Many Canberrans will recall the Futsal Courts besides LBG (over 20 years ago) and all of the “Economic Benefit” statements.

Politicians often talk about the jobs these major projects will create. Temporary jobs, but long-term debt.

How many times are we going to hear from those with vested interests about the virtues a new stadium? (In Canberra, you’d also be wanting a closing roof). Football and Rock Concerts! Yeah, I get it. Anyone who knows Melbourne will tell you about Marvel Stadium (2-300 metres easy walking distance from Southern Cross Station or the MCG, one stop from Southern Cross.

But Melbourne is a city with
5 million people! We are but a small country town in comparison.

And while this article wasn’t about LR vs Buses, my view is really simple. Before spending our money, remember public transport is about getting people from A to B. Adopt whichever will get people to there the quickest.

The problem however is that both sides of politics will try and outspend each other, in order to get our votes.

The ultimate Canberra example where the fraud of some of these arguments is exposed is the Supercars race. Go and read the audit report from that for a sobering view of what the return on investment really is.

For goodness sake, isn’t that exactly why we elect a government? To spend the money we collectively pay in taxes and be held accountable to do so, you make not agree with how it’s spent, but to start an argument whinging about GOVT spending tax payers dollars is so dumb. Sure private investment sometimes covers part, but how many would pay entirely without govt assistance for anything unless it had massive returns guaranteed e.g. tollways. Sheesh

It seems nobody loves Bruce?

I want it out there, I love Bruce!

Yeah so do most of us, but I think a covered stadium in the city somewhere near the lake would really improve not only the skyline and features of the lake, may also enable more people to attend events for not only centrality but weather, I’m not happy that Civic pool is possibly doomed regardless, why not say demolish the ugly Manuka Oval/Stadium and make it big enough for Cricket/AFL and Rugby/Soccer and whatever else will rent it for events, then we might even get say proper AFL teams, Cricket teams and Soccer teams and you know, some decent international games and concerts with Bruce as a back up for busier times. With maybe some extra incentives for light rail to also spread easterly to Kingston and Fyshwick as well.

How about a motorsports and training facility? Cover the requirements from driver and rider training to Summernats at a modern suitable site near the city that will last into the future.

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