Barr blows whistle on new stadium chatter after AIS says it’s out of puff

Ian Bushnell 5 August 2020 42
Brumbies playing the Rebels at Canberra Stadium

Canberra Stadium may be ageing but a replacement is a long way off. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has poured cold water on the possibility of a new football stadium being constructed in the national capital any time soon, calling the notion “fanciful”.

Mr Barr was responding to questions about how the recent listing of the Australian Institute of Sport’s Bruce precinct on Infrastructure Australia’s priority list, and its assessment as not fit for purpose, might affect the push for a new stadium to be built in the city to replace the ageing Canberra Stadium in Bruce.

He said the government might take the listing seriously when the Commonwealth announced an investment package to renew the AIS, but he doubted whether Canberra Stadium and the AIS Arena were first or second-order issues for it.

A feasibility study is being conducted on a future stadium for the ACT Government but Mr Barr said an investment announcement was a long way off.

”Frankly at this point, when only 1500 can attend per game and the most that would expand to is 25 per cent of capacity, in the middle of global pandemic, the idea that we would building something where 25,000, 30,000 people would sit next to each other just seems little bit fanciful,” he said.

Mr Barr said preliminary work showed that a constrained stadium could fit on the Olympic Pool site in the CBD but would require the shifting of a couple of roads by several metres.

The structure would be similar to Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, with a very narrow footprint and steep seating, but Mr Barr said there was much more room at Exhibition Park where there were several sites that could deliver a different style of stadium.

But he reiterated that a stadium was low on the government’s infrastructure priorities and behind the redevelopment of the city’s cultural precinct for which planning was more advanced.

Sports Minister Yvette Berry said she had sought access to the AIS from her federal counterpart so the ACT could assess the condition of the campus.

The Infrastructure Australia listing, which had been proposed by the Australian Sports Commission and AIS, says the majority of facilities do not meet modern-day requirements and are expensive to maintain, with more than 15 of the facilities over 30 years old and not fit for purpose.

But Ms Berry said the ACT Government did not know what the actual issues were and could not even give a timeframe for any kind of renewal without that information.

”It’s disappointing that it’s been in this situation for some time now and something wasn’t done sooner,” she said.

”We want to be making sure we have a facility in the ACT for the short and medium term, and then look at a longer-term strategy about what kinds of facilities the ACT needs.”

The listing, which is more or less a pitch to government for funding, proposes redeveloping and modernising the AIS facilities.

”A broad range of infrastructure, technology and policy solutions should be explored to address the identified problems,” it says.

It says the proponent will identify initiatives and develop options for redevelopment.

The Commonwealth continues to review the future of the Bruce precinct, with suggestions that it could sell half the site, including the stadium, which the ACT Government leases, and the AIS Arena, and redevelop the rest in the next few years.

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42 Responses to Barr blows whistle on new stadium chatter after AIS says it’s out of puff
Yuri Shukost Yuri Shukost 2:03 pm 07 Aug 20

Barr will find any reason not to build a new stadium or renovate the existing one. I suspect he’d find the money if it affected the AFL, though.

Fred Pilcher Fred Pilcher 1:22 pm 07 Aug 20

Good news. Sanity prevails.

John Moulis John Moulis 4:42 pm 06 Aug 20

I’m glad there will be no new stadium. I swim at Civic Pool and the thought that it will go to make way for a stadium is abhorrent. Surely a facility for people to take part in sport and keep fit is preferable to a place where people sit on their posteriors and stuff themselves with junk food.

    JS9 JS9 9:29 pm 06 Aug 20

    If genuine plans had already been put in place for an alternate pool for the City somewhere (as was originally planned potentially at West Basin), I’d have no problem with the pool being moved from that site, as Civic Pool is old, decrepit and not really repairable. It must be part of any business case for a future stadium on that site though, that such facilities are replaced elsewhere.

Trev Astle Trev Astle 3:47 pm 06 Aug 20

Then let's build a drag way for electric vehicle racing. Spend the Federal Government infrastructure money on something that will bring a smile to Tradies faces.

James Savoulidis James Savoulidis 1:19 pm 06 Aug 20

“Mr Barr said there was much more room at Exhibition Park” what’s the point of building it there? If it ain’t in the city then they should just redevelop the current site in Bruce.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 12:46 pm 06 Aug 20

Gee.... what a surprise !!

chewy14 chewy14 12:37 pm 06 Aug 20

Barr is correct that now is not the time to be building a new stadium but his comments about locating it at EPIC are so far off the mark it’s ridiculous.

EPIC suffers from all the same problems that Bruce Stadium does.

It is difficult to access for the majority of the population and is not located anywhere near an entertainment precinct with bars, restaurants and other amenities to maximise on the crowds that such a sporting venue would create.

Thinking of EPIC as even a possibility just highlights how significantly Northside focused he and his government is.

    Heavs Heavs 4:39 pm 06 Aug 20

    Wouldn’t the argument in favour of EPIC be that it could have the potential to be developed as a precinct because the Government owns the land. All the stuff around Bruce is National (AIS) land isn’t it?

    Also – no need to worry about ‘Guardians of the Lake’ or whatever they are called sooking it up because the stadium is too big (the site in the city would require NCA approval remember)

    chewy14 chewy14 8:55 pm 06 Aug 20

    How could you create an entertainment precinct that’s so far away from any major commercial areas and disjointed from where people live?

    It simply couldn’t survive.

    And as above, it’s also extremely difficult for the majority of the population to get to, which defeats the entire reason for locating it centrally.

    They’d be better off looking to build on the old Football park site in Phillip but the Civic pool site is far and away the superior choice.

    Heavs Heavs 6:23 pm 07 Aug 20

    The footy park site has been redeveloped and now the home for Cricket ACT.

    Civic is appealing but are the NCA going to bite at it? If they do how much of a compromised arena (either for spectators or players) would we end up with?

    Epic is on the tramline. Which by the time of any new stadium will have extended to woden. It’s also got two national highways running right past it.

    I’m not saying it’s the best option. But it shouldn’t be ruled out

    chewy14 chewy14 10:33 am 08 Aug 20

    This project would be $200 million+. The work that has happened at Football Park would not preclude a stadium there.

    And the light rail journey from Woden to Epic would be 45mins based on current planning. Let alone anyone further south.

    Epic is woefully located for such a project and should be ruled out. Its no better than the existing Bruce site.

Jay Kay Jay Kay 11:13 am 06 Aug 20

There's only three reasons it should even be considered at the moment.

1\ If the feds want to chip in a majority of the cost

2\ If the ACT needs stimulus projects post COVID.

3\ If a AFL or A-League team actually sets up shop here (without us having to pay for it).

Atm though, there definitely are more pressing needs.

Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 11:09 am 06 Aug 20

We need a lot more important upgrades to our city than another stadium.

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 10:55 pm 06 Aug 20

    Amanda Evans like what? When was the last time you were honestly there? It’s a complete dump - worst in Australia

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 10:55 pm 10 Aug 20

    Amanda Evans but we have a perfectly good oval at Manuka that no one complains about? It is so annoying that people who have no interest or knowledge about sport or the capacity of what new stadium could offer weigh in..

Robert Honeybone Snr Robert Honeybone Snr 10:31 am 06 Aug 20

He’d rather spend the money on the tram network

    Philip Leaf Philip Leaf 10:42 am 06 Aug 20

    The light rail will get more regular use and will probably be of greater benefit to the public if the success of Stage One is anything to go off. So makes sense to rather spend the money there

Guy Noble Guy Noble 10:26 am 06 Aug 20

We know what raiders supporters are like,,,,, we have a few bad years we will get 6000 people showing up. Dont need it

Margaret Dudley Margaret Dudley 10:02 am 06 Aug 20

I’m just curious why people think that near the city is the best place to build a new stadium. Wouldn’t it be better out of town but on the light rail route?

    Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 2:41 pm 06 Aug 20

    Because it is easy to get to, lots of accommodation is close by, and there are plenty of pre and post game entertainemnt and f&b options. It is a no-brainer.

    Ash Wettern Ash Wettern 9:09 pm 06 Aug 20

    Yep drinks pre game and walk to stadium would be good

    Renea Hazel Renea Hazel 7:54 am 08 Aug 20

    Which 'best' stadiums are near the city? Only the SCG in Sydney and I'd hardly call that a good one. Most are in outlying areas but with entertainment and dining precincts built around them.

Julia Nesbitt Julia Nesbitt 9:16 am 06 Aug 20

A very low priority at present.

James Hutchison James Hutchison 9:05 am 06 Aug 20

We need a stadium next to the city.

Justin Watson Justin Watson 8:57 am 06 Aug 20

once we are through the covid-19 apocalypse, building a stadium makes sense then. Money is cheap right now and it will create jobs and boost local businesses when its complete (assuming its in the city). I can see why now is not a great time though, but you'd think they'd have to start building it before 2025. I'm guessing though they are hanging out for federal money like North Queensland got for its new stadium.

Kerry Jackson Kerry Jackson 8:36 am 06 Aug 20

Good. Don't have the money

Julie Delves Julie Delves 8:08 am 06 Aug 20

Good we don’t need more sporting facilities.

Tom Allen Tom Allen 8:02 am 06 Aug 20

We have a good one now

Roberta Lynne Anning Roberta Lynne Anning 7:51 am 06 Aug 20

Gee what a surprise.....not.

Adam Vinning Adam Vinning 7:32 am 06 Aug 20

Well, time to find out the Liberal position

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