4 June 2024

Lighter, brighter and more comfortable: Revamped AIS Arena nearly ready for action, says Perkins

| Ian Bushnell
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Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins: “The Canberra community not only deserves but needs to have our facilities up and running again.” Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The AIS Arena at Bruce is on the brink of reopening after nearly two years of work to bring it back up to scratch to host sporting and entertainment events.

Canberra’s premier indoor sporting and concert venue was closed in early 2020 due to several fire and event safety issues. However, $15 million from the Albanese Government in its first budget in 2022 has helped pay for a refurbishment.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins told a Tourism Leaders Forum at the National Convention Centre on Tuesday (4 June) that the Arena was extremely close to being open and available.

“There is no doubt that the Canberra community not only deserves but needs to have our facilities up and running again,” he said.

“We’re looking forward very soon to announcing an official opening date and getting activity on that site in the coming months.”

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Mr Perkins said that all the seating was in, the air conditioning and lighting were complete, and new electronic signing and boards had been installed.

He said the AIS had been overwhelmed with inquiries about using the 4800-seat arena, and what had been interesting was the diversity of interest.

“People are already wanting to know if they can get in and do things, from children’s concerts, sport, dinners and the like, and so it is a multi-purpose facility,” Mr Perkins said.

Not to mention the Canberra Capitals women’s basketball team that has been without a proper home base for four years.

UC Caps at the AIS Arena after defeating the Adelaide Lightning to win the championship in 2019

The AIS Arena after the Canberra Capitals beat the Adelaide Lightning to win the 2018-19 season championship. Photo: Tim Gavel.

The Arena also hosted concerts featuring some of the world’s top artists over the years.

“All of that stuff is absolutely what we’re trying to attract,” Mr Perkins said.

He said there was still work to do to finalise some high-level fire compliance, but the AIS was very confident that by the summer sporting season, it would be operating at full capacity.

Mr Perkins said the refreshed facility would offer a much better experience for audiences, sports people and performers.

He said it had fabulous new seating and would be climate-controlled, making it a more pleasant venue.

“And obviously, with brand new lighting and audio and screens and things, that modern feel to the viewer experience will also come in, which is very important,” he said.

“What they’ll notice, and they’ll feel is that it’s lighter and brighter, it’ll sound and look better, and it’ll be a lot more comfortable.”

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Mr Perkins said that with the new lighting and audio systems, about three or four tonnes of roof capacity had been released, providing greater scope for the staging of concerts.

“So all that stuff is coming together to certainly give it a new lease on life,” he said.

“But you know, we still have to work with a lot of stakeholders to be ready.”

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Gregg Heldon7:01 am 08 Jun 24

Good. Some of my best memories are seeing the Cannons play there and some great concerts like Van Halen, Bryan Adams, Dragon, Icehouse and many others.
Hope all that can happen again.

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