New video screens and upgrades for Canberra’s two main sporting arenas suggest a new city stadium is a long way off.
The ACT Government has issued a tender for the design and installation of a replacement video replay board for the ageing screen at the southern end of Canberra Stadium and a new VRB for the north-eastern section of Manuka Oval, as well as awarding an almost half a million dollar contract for upgrades to the Manuka Oval entries.
The new Canberra Stadium screen will be 155 square metres in size while the Manuka Oval one, located between the grounds keeper cottage and Jack Fingleton scoreboard, will be bigger at 180 sqm.
The $438,000 16-month contract for the Manuka entry upgrades has gone to Glascott Landscape & Civil.
A government spokesperson said the procurement process for the big screens would take some months to finalise.
“The Territory is working to have both screens operational as soon as practical however this will depend on the response from the market and the availability of the equipment,” the spokesperson said.
When it comes to a city stadium, which Chief Minister Andrew Barr insists could only be a 20,000 seat facility if it were to be built on the Civic pool site instead of the 30,000 seats required for international games, the government says major infrastructure priorities had not changed.
The government’s current priority is the development of the City Cultural Precinct, including a new Canberra Theatre Centre.
Although the election of the Albanese Government did provide an opportunity to re-engage with the Commonwealth on its plans for the AIS precinct.
“This will have a significant impact on any decision-making for the ACT Government on the future of Canberra Stadium,” the spokesperson said.
There had been some private sector approaches to government but these did not progress beyond initial discussions.
It is believed a private sector bid would seek some funding contributions from both the ACT and Commonwealth governments and/or a land grant.
“But the market appetite for capital intensive, loss-making, investments is pretty low,” the spokesperson said.
That will disappoint NRL and Super Rugby fans who brave the chilly conditions in what they see as sub-standard facilities at Bruce to support the Raiders and Brumbies.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has publicly called for a new city stadium, saying the 50-year old Bruce facility is an embarrassment and seeing hope in the new Albanese Government.
Meanwhile, the ACT Government continues to pour millions into the current stadiums.
The 2021-22 budget allocated $8.059 million to Venues Canberra over two financial years for stadium works, including funding for the video replay boards and critical amenity upgrades.
Venues Canberra also receives about $1.5 million a year to maintain the facilities at Canberra Stadium, Manuka Oval and Exhibition Park in Canberra.
The tender for the big screens closes on 4 August.