15 April 2024

Don't tie stadium funding to Bruce, Lee tells PM

| Ian Bushnell
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Raiders fans at Canberra Stadium

Canberra Stadium is 47 years old and is now a hot election issue. Photo: Canberra Raiders.

Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee has called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese not to tie any potential funding for a new Canberra stadium to a specific location, given that the ACT goes to the polls in six months.

Ms Lee wrote to the PM after learning that the ACT Government had formally requested the Commonwealth put up half the cost of constructing a new 30,000-seat stadium in the Bruce precinct.

According to an ACT Government spokesperson, Chief Minister Andrew Barr wrote to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese some time ago requesting a 50/50 funding split for the progression of the sports, health and education precinct, including a new stadium, in Bruce.

“Discussions are ongoing. We anticipate further details on the Commonwealth’s plans for AIS precinct renewal will be announced this year,” the spokesperson said.

READ ALSO ACT Government urged to ‘put our money where our mouth is’ with filing of 5000-strong petition for Canberra United

However, Ms Lee told the Prime Minister that the Canberra Liberals had often said that their preferred location for a stadium would be the city.

“It is essential that any much-needed funding by the Federal Government for a stadium in the ACT be available to be utilised at a location determined by the ACT government of the day,” she said.

Ms Lee later told journalists that the funding could not be tied to a specific location such as Bruce.

She said there was broad support for a city stadium from Independent Senator David Pocock, the Canberra Business Chamber, the Property Council and various sporting codes.

“There is reason why cities around the world place their stadiums in the heart of the city,” Ms Lee said.

“It brings the best economic and social benefits to the entire city.”

Ms Lee said her party has been talking to stakeholders about a city stadium and has been told that it would cost between $500 million and $800 million.

“I’m very confident I can work with any party in government at the federal level to ensure that we’re able to showcase the enormous benefits of any federal government making the appropriate investment right here in our capital,” she said.

Ms Lee would not say if the Liberals had a site in mind or whether a location would still be the Civic pool site, which the government had found to be too small and costly to develop.

She said they would have more to say closer to the election.

Mr Barr said in February that the ACT would be looking to the Commonwealth to co-fund a stadium in Bruce.

He has a site in mind: the old Raiders headquarters on the corner of Haydon Drive and Battye Street, which is closer to the public transport corridor, the University of Canberra and CIT than the current Canberra Stadium, which is 47 years old.

In February, the ACT Government announced $760,000 funding for technical due diligence on the site. The government spokesperson said the results were expected towards the end of the year.

The Albanese Government’s decision to keep the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra has provided certainty and increased the likelihood of a deal to develop the Bruce precinct, which is also likely to include housing.

READ ALSO The Canberra Raiders are leading the way as one of the most inclusive sporting clubs in the region

Under last year’s memorandum of understanding, the Australian Sports Commission and the ACT investigated three stadium options: a new build on a different site in the precinct that would enable the current stadium to operate while the new one is being built; demolition of the existing stadium and the construction of a new one on the same site; and staged, significant upgrades to the existing stadium.

The first was preferred, and the stadium team investigated 11 possible locations within the Bruce precinct.

The upcoming Federal Budget in May will be the next milestone for any funding announcements for the precinct, including a new stadium.

Both the Raiders and the Brumbies favoured the city option, along with business interests, because of its central location and the economic and social benefits it would bring to the city, particularly if the new stadium became a venue for major concerts.

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How about we house people before we house sporting events. Also this Labor government spent 100 million dollars on that stupid horse racing track and they want to spend another 45 million for an asset that gets used 9 days a year that would be a good sight for a stadium I think as well as housing

I think Southwell Park in Lyneham is a perfect spot for a new stadium. With the hockey, tennis, and netball centres in close proximity the space is already a sports precinct.
Lyneham is better centred than Bruce, more accessible with access to the tram line and the construction could be completed a lot quicker with less disruptions than a city site.

The funny thing – it’s almost the exact same distance from Civic as the SCG/SFS are from Central. There are bars and restaurants right over the road. It’s never been investigated as an option because of the Sullivan’s Creek issue – but surely that could be engineered out as part of bulk excavation works.

I hope the Federal Government demands a cost benefit analysis for the future home of ACT Government subsidised sporting teams, event etc.

Build the stadium in the city and watch Canberra transform its image from underwhelming to a place people want to visit. The last musical event of any importance was probably Cheap Trick at Bruce back in the 1980’s.

@Greg Dennis
Ummm … Dire Straits? Elton John?

I am sure Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is quivering in his boots at the prospect of Elizabeth Lee and her party winning government!!

Any stadium built on the Canberra Olympic Pool site needs to cover the economic cost of replacing the pool and the social costs of any disrupton to the health and fitness regimes of the hundreds of regular users of the pool.

fridgemagnet3:24 pm 15 Apr 24

Hear hear!
The Canberra Olympic Pool is an icon of Canberra’s history. Should be listed as such!
If however our weak-illed and short-termist government leaders were to cave to vested interests and build a shrine to spectatorship on the site of the Olympic Pool, then one hopes that at the very least they would build a replacement multi-pool complex on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffiin – pretty much where the paddle boat hire was formerly located (and concepted some years back). Make it iconic, architecturally significant and usable year-round. Oh, and please never consider building one at ANU as a more useless place to park does not exist… At least at the suggested lake location, parking is plentiful.

Sounds like a great idea. Heritage list a pool that has been leaking no end for decades and is basically unfixable.

Agree it should be replaced somewhere, but it is way past its used by date as a facility.

The fact is a stadium is never going to be built there – it is too small a site unless Parkes Way goes underground. You think a stadium prospect is expensive now…. imagine it with that built in.

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