EPIC in running for new stadium, says Infrastructure Plan

Ian Bushnell 18 October 2019 39
The Brumbies at Bruce Stadium. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Canberra Stadium is widely regarded as tired, old and unsuitable for modern spectator needs. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Exhibition Park in Mitchell is being actively considered as a potential site for a new city stadium to replace the Bruce facility, according to the ACT Government’s Infrastructure Plan launched on Thursday.

Speculation about an alternative rectangular sports and entertainment arena to the 25,000 seat Commonwealth-owned Canberra Stadium has centred on the existing Civic Pool site on Constitution Avenue. However, the Infrastructure Plan says EPIC’s location on the light rail line and the availability of larger available sites among the 77 hectares of outdoor space may make it a more viable option.

The plan says a new stadium would cost $250-$500 million.

It says the pool site’s advantages include its connection to the city centre, but it may not be big enough and traffic issues may limit its feasibility.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says that while a stadium in town might be ideal it will not fit on the pool site without moving Parkes Way, which requires Commonwealth approval.

He said an easier build might be at Bruce or at EPIC, which the Government had committed to revitalising. “You can drop a stadium into an existing precinct or you can build a precinct around it,” he said.

The plan says it may be better to co-locate a new stadium with other exhibition and community facilities at EPIC.

There has been intense lobbying for a new all-weather state-of-the-art city stadium to be built in a more convenient location than Bruce, and one that fits into a modern entertainment context.

Exhibition Park

Exhibition Park: the Government is eyeing its open spaces for a new stadium site. File photo

Crowds at Raiders and Brumbies games in the deep of winter are falling as fans opt for the more comfortable surroundings of the big screens at clubs, pubs and home, rather than huddle together at the partially uncovered stadium at Bruce.

The Government has started scoping work on Canberra’s needs for a rectangular stadium beyond the 2020s capable of hosting domestic and international rugby league, rugby union and soccer games, as well as stage major concerts.

The plan says a new stadium would likely require a seating capacity of around 25,000, be compact enough to allow spectators to get up close to the action, support year-round use and have good access to public transport and parking.

The Government could also stick with the Bruce site, saying that it has an ample footprint for a new stadium.

But the plan says it is not well enough connected with existing retail and commercial precincts and there are limited facilities for efficient use of public transport. The ACT Government would also need to either purchase the site from the Commonwealth Government or enter into some other kind of land-use arrangement, it says.

Any decision will hinge on whether the Commonwealth opts to sell or redevelop the Bruce site, both of which it said this year it was considering.

The Government is not saying how a new stadium would be paid for, whether it be funded directly or in partnership with the private sector, but it will be behind the new Canberra Theatre Centre in the culture queue. The Theatre Centre is expected to be developed within the next five years.

Mr Barr said the Bruce stadium, though imperfect, was still adequate and would suffice until the mid-2020s. The only way for it to be fast-tracked would for an investor to come forward with a viable proposal.

The Infrastructure Plan commits to maintaining EPIC as Canberra’s ‘pre-eminent large format event space’ in the years ahead, which will be a relief to the Canberra Show and other big users such as the National Folk Festival.

As well as a new Canberra Stadium, the Government is looking at upgraded facilities to support major events like the Canberra Show, a large-scale venue suitable for hosting multicultural and other community events, and education and sports facilities supporting the growing Gungahlin region.

It is planning to spend $50 million there over the next five years and up to double that in the long term.

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39 Responses to EPIC in running for new stadium, says Infrastructure Plan
Sally Tregellas Wodzinska Sally Tregellas Wodzinska 6:39 am 20 Oct 19

A better idea than City/LBG if Bruce can't be modernised

Peter Hyde Peter Hyde 6:55 pm 19 Oct 19

Hmm, the civic pool site will be serviced by the two main tram lines - not one. It hold also bring people and business to the ‘dead end’ of civic. Also for people south of the lake EPIC is more difficult than Bruce

Dunx Fallon Dunx Fallon 4:37 pm 18 Oct 19

Good to see the Southside neglected again

Geoff Walker Geoff Walker 6:37 am 18 Oct 19

What are you going

on about now?

What Beers, Sat, as in Urn or even Venus.

maxblues maxblues 1:33 am 18 Oct 19

ACT Govt needs to promote global warming so it’s not so cold at Bruce Stadium during footy season.

Angus Walker Angus Walker 11:58 pm 17 Oct 19

Beers ready for Sat?

Tamara Haitsma Tamara Haitsma 9:46 pm 17 Oct 19


Luke Fattore Luke Fattore 8:27 pm 17 Oct 19

Worst idea ever!! Needs to be in the city 100%

Dory Johns Dory Johns 8:12 pm 17 Oct 19

Good idea

Ben Hoitink Ben Hoitink 6:04 pm 17 Oct 19

That’s pretty true

Peter Melavirta Peter Melavirta 6:04 pm 17 Oct 19

Ben Hoitink . We'll all be retired or dead and buried before anything happens

Janet Smith Janet Smith 4:38 pm 17 Oct 19

Do up the stadium that we already have

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 12:22 am 18 Oct 19

    Janet Smith it’s rubbish! We are the capital- we need a top stadium for a top city!

Mirjam Herzog Mirjam Herzog 3:54 pm 17 Oct 19

Given that a decent concert has a noise radius of roughly 25km, it doesn't really matter where it goes in that regard...I remember hearing Tina Turner belt in a prime concert stadium...while standing in the garden, about the said 20-25km away :-) I found that rather cool - as a kid;-)

Vickie O'Malley Vickie O'Malley 2:56 pm 17 Oct 19

Is this the Govt's consultation process? It needs to be in the city as Christopher Fridge Butler says. This time round, give southside a thought.

    Tony Gladwish Tony Gladwish 12:34 pm 18 Oct 19

    Vickie O'Malley I agree no one cares about what the southsiders want on principle I refuse to go to a Stadium built in Epic it’s got to be in the City.

Belinda Read Belinda Read 1:38 pm 17 Oct 19

Stupid idea! Needs to be in the City!

Michael Hazell Michael Hazell 1:22 pm 17 Oct 19

Gotta be in the city.

Peter Agius Peter Agius 12:26 pm 17 Oct 19

If it’s not in the city don’t bother.

Bradley Temperley Bradley Temperley 12:20 pm 17 Oct 19

Build it like Sapporo Dome as a multi-purpose facility.

Even during brutal Hokkaido winters the grass remains outside until it is needed. This ensures good growth in the sunshine and protects it from damage during concerts and other activities.

Brumbies, Raiders, Cavalry, etc. could all use it. https://youtu.be/dS-sHNDosHA

Anthony Meere Anthony Meere 10:52 am 17 Oct 19

What an absolutely stupid suggestion.

Steve Ulr Steve Ulr 10:45 am 17 Oct 19

And what will happen to the events that are held there now?

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