Civic or EPIC stadium kicks off at half a billion dollars, says report

Ian Bushnell 15 March 2021 58
Canberra Stadium

Canberra Stadium’s future is being clouded by Federal Government talk about redeveloping the site. Photo: Supplied.

Building a rectangular stadium on the Civic pool site would require a bespoke design and come with several planning challenges, but would have economic and transport advantages over Exhibition Park, according to a government-commissioned study of the two proposals.

With the ACT Government lease at Bruce’s Canberra Stadium expiring in 2024, and the Federal Government considering options for redevelopment, the ACT Government is exploring options for a replacement stadium and has identified Civic and EPIC as locations.

The Arup study found both proposals were achievable and found little to split them when it came to the eye-popping cost.

Both sites would cost north of half a billion dollars at current estimates, about $638m by 2027 and more than $700 million by 2032, numbers that would require private sector involvement.

The study estimates it would take around six to seven years for construction at EPIC from business case to completion, with Civic taking slightly longer.

Arup’s brief was to compare the two sites based on a capacity of at least 25,000 seats, roughly north-south field orientation, and a fully enclosed roof, with consideration of a 100 per cent dripline roof.

It looked at four bowl designs for the smaller Civic site, which would have to impinge on an upgraded Parkes Way, but only a standard design for the more spacious EPIC site.

The more constrained site would require a design unlike any other in Australia, but that would also give it a unique identity, the study said.

The study settled on the fourth design and found that a 25,000 seat stadium can fit on the site with the north and south grandstands single-tiered and the east and west grandstands two-tiered.

A well proportioned upper and lower tier would mean avoiding long travel distances to seating, food and beverage areas and toilets, and no northern sun shadowing.

But a fully enclosed roof would cost more at EPIC due to the significantly longer spans generated by the enlarged east and west stands.

The Civic proposal would also need amendments to the National Capital Plan (NCP) as the roof will be higher than the current limit of 25 metres and ‘stadium’ is not a listed land use.

The southern site boundary will need to move south into the Parkes Way corridor by up to 12 metres and a concrete barrier and fencing may be required on the Parkes Way boundary until Parkes Way stage five is complete in about 2030.

Any future upgrades will need to be coordinated with the design development of the stadium.

Parramatta's Bankwest Stadium

Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium. Photo: Bankwest Stadium.

Crowd, traffic, security and noise management, particularly in relation to nearby residential developments, will also pose greater challenges than EPIC.

The study did not provide for onsite parking, relying on the number of city spaces, which is higher than current provisions in the Canberra Stadium precinct.

But the study says the central Civic site has easy road access, including Parkes Way, and public transport links such as the city light rail terminus, bus interchange, and future light rail along Constitution Avenue.

It also has greater economic potential, being so close to other city venues, with more possibilities for drawing people to the site on non-game days than the more remote EPIC location.

EPIC’s main attractions include more space to play with, a less complicated build using a Bankwest-style, continuous bowl design, and fewer planning hurdles.

Onsite parking can be utilised, but transport options are limited to light rail.

The study looked at three sites but settled on an area near the EPIC and Racecourse light rail stop and the future Sandford Street light rail stop, which would require the harness training track to be moved.

“Overall these venues are offering very different outcomes,” the study concludes. “One is a bespoke urban venue which will have strong links back to its surrounding context and has the potential to tap into the existing neighbouring network of complementary facilities and supporting industries.

“The other is a more typical design on an open site, with less operational complexity but also less potential to give back and engage with its surrounding context.

“What is important to note is that both are feasible and both address the key requirements of the brief.”

But in terms of government priorities, the stadium proposal sits firmly behind the development of the Civic cultural precinct and the new Canberra Theatre, but without a private sector backer, it remains a distant prospect.


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58 Responses to Civic or EPIC stadium kicks off at half a billion dollars, says report
thegregster thegregster 4:43 pm 18 Mar 21

Can someone explain to me why we need either of these 2 locations to build another stadium? What happens to Bruce? Why do we need an “upgrade” and what has that got to do with the end of the current lease? Please stop spending taxpayers money on white elephants. We have people living on the streets in Canberra and you want to spend money on this????

Kanika Madan Kanika Madan 8:37 pm 17 Mar 21

Aaqil Zaheed livestream nz vs ind here?

Hesham Alamyar Hesham Alamyar 8:08 pm 17 Mar 21

Nick Blumenthal the scenes when all we get is a dedicated bus stop outside of canberra stadium

    Nick Blumenthal Nick Blumenthal 8:10 pm 17 Mar 21

    Hesham Alamyar Pile the Ders and the Brumbles onto the action bus system baby

Samuel Nicholls Samuel Nicholls 11:47 pm 16 Mar 21

Build it in the City Like a Lang Park style and the feeling of being on top of the Ground. Watch us Boom once again. Need it to Hold 45000 to 55000

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 11:05 pm 16 Mar 21

Cheap! Only a quarter of the cost of replacing buses with trams to Woden.

Peter Bee Peter Bee 8:22 pm 16 Mar 21

So who is going to pay?

Robauz Robauz 5:08 pm 16 Mar 21

What Canberra really needs is a recital hall. We have none suitable. All current venues are make-shift, small or unsuitable.

Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 10:47 am 16 Mar 21

If only Barr thought of a way to build a proper transport system 🤔🤣

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 11:04 am 16 Mar 21

    Sean Bishop actually Barr doesn’t design or build the system .. paid consultants undertake that task.

JS9 JS9 8:53 am 16 Mar 21

6 or 7 years – why so long to build?

While there may be some need for ‘bespoke’ elements up front in terms of design, that seems an excessive amount of time.

nobody nobody 8:27 am 16 Mar 21

The lease on Bruce Stadium ends in 3 years, a new stadium will take 7 years to build, and the government will take how many years to make a decision.

chewy14 chewy14 7:36 am 16 Mar 21

The civic site makes so much more sense than EPIC but both are completely unaffordable at present, particularly if the government continues to blow cash on other vanity projects like the light rail.

Yuri Shukost Yuri Shukost 12:35 am 16 Mar 21

Makes more sense than a tramline that the Feds haven't yet approved to go any further south than the foot of Capital Hill. Of course an LNP Federal Government would never leave a Labor Government anywhere in the firing line for criticism.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 8:38 am 16 Mar 21

    Yuri Shukost actually stage 2b has been approved

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 12:26 am 16 Mar 21

Put an oval at EPIC enlarge the convention centre in civic.

Sport events require 1 thing - the ability for a lot of people to move in and out of the area quickly.

Conventions bring hotel guests, diners, a multitude of av requirements for different presenters/exhibits.

The EPIC pavilions are Canberra's biggest venue option for conventions. Two giant sheds in the middle of nowhere.

The civic convention centre brings all the right support and is in the right area, but it is tiny to the offerings in Sydney and Melbourne. I work for a Canberra event and it's already out grown what the convention centre can offer for attendee capacity, the convention centre exhibition hall has a capacity of 2000.

For any bush capital fans about to cry foul the city can't support that - the DoD is based here, the government (which does not like its public servants travelling) is based here, and industry certainly likes to sell things to government.

And any local event (and there are many) requiring an exhibition floor with a capacity of over 2000 attendees (think of the craft markets, think of Forage) would likely jump at the chance to have their event in a well supported and central location.

Heidi Tallarida Heidi Tallarida 10:36 pm 15 Mar 21

Either way, just do it and make it an option for undercover so we can get decent international live music acts!

Anthony Grice Anthony Grice 9:34 pm 15 Mar 21

How is better transport options a call? If... The stadium was at capacity it would buckle Civic. The plans show zero parking. We need to take into consideration how Olympic Park can clear out their venues

Nick Anderson Nick Anderson 8:27 pm 15 Mar 21

Build it in Civic, a double Manuka oval’s capacity while we’re at it (Wellington’s sky stadium is a great example). BankWest stadium is also a great example of what a new civic stadium should look like, perhaps a retractable roof for the cold winters and hot summers (marvel stadium has that).

So much potential, only one chance to get it right.

Colin Ball Colin Ball 8:07 pm 15 Mar 21

Leave it to a private company to build not the government, at least it would be completed in 3-5 years not potentially 10. Classic example is Western Sydney airport being "planned and looked at" for the last 50 years, as it's a government project. Yet the guy that built Toowoomba airport had it planned, built and operational in 18-24 months. Big difference letting private take over when they have cash invested and want a return on that money.

Alan Vogt Alan Vogt 7:18 pm 15 Mar 21

Rebuild Canberra Olympic Pool by the lake and THEN build a stadium where the pool was.

    Natalina Ireland Natalina Ireland 8:04 pm 15 Mar 21

    Just don't get the ones that did the Gungalin pool!!

Clayton McCloud Clayton McCloud 7:14 pm 15 Mar 21

Build it (in the civic), and they will come.

Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:01 pm 15 Mar 21

How does civic offer better transport, the light rail stops out the front of epic, there is ample car parking. Seems more like the consultant delivered the outcome they were told to.

    Andrea Kerr Andrea Kerr 6:46 am 16 Mar 21

    Marc Edwards the light rail doesn’t currently service the entire ACT.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 8:35 am 16 Mar 21

    Marc Edwards LR stage 3 is planned to go past the door step of the Civic site.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 8:50 am 16 Mar 21

    Robert Azzopardi and in which century will that occur. And like other cities not everything needs to be in the CBD

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 8:55 am 16 Mar 21

    Marc Edwards in my opinion the ACT Gov is committed to LR connecting all the major nodes in Canberra. You could say that Melbourne didn’t wake up one morning with the entire city covered by trams.

    I think you will find that many stadiums are located in or within walking distance of the CBD. Ask any bar or restaurant in Civic where they would prefer the stadium to be built.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 9:41 am 16 Mar 21

    Robert Azzopardi sorry but why do we have to cater to the CBD crowd, the same could be said for Gunners business, which have been more overlooked, Belco, Phillip and Tuggers the same.

    At least at EPIC, there is the scope to make a full sports precinct, somewhat like Olympic park in Sydney.

    The CBD doesn’t need additional attractors.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 11:09 am 16 Mar 21

    Marc Edwards it would work in both precincts .. my preference would be the CBD .. think MCG and Docklands and the failure that was VFL Park. Think Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane .. all stadiums within in walking distance of the CBD.

    Epic would work as well.

    Both sites will be on LR routes enabling crowds to quickly dispersed without the need for cars.

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