10 June 2024

Perkins puts clock on AIS redevelopment to be ready by LA Games

| Ian Bushnell
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The push is on to get the AIS redevelopment under way as soon as possible. Photo: Sport Performance Centres.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins will be looking to fast track the proposed Australian Institute of Sport redevelopment to have it up and running by the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

The Federal Government has put nearly $250 million towards the project to revive the AIS and again make it the nation’s unquestioned home of elite sport.

It also allocated $10 million for planning work to develop a Bruce precinct where the ACT Government plans to site a new 30,000-seat stadium, among other infrastructure and housing.

Plans for the revitalised AIS include a new multi-storey accommodation building for athletes, villas and an altitude house in a Residence of Champions, a sports dome, high-performance testing and training centre, Australian Sports Innovation Hub, and a retro-fit dome over the synthetic field.

Mr Perkins told a Tourism Leaders Forum this week that with the Brisbane Olympics only eight years away, the faster the new facilities were up and running the faster they would make a difference for athletes.

“So we’re actually engaging right now with building our work plan and getting that detailed business case together to actually show what the delivery and staging will look like,” he said.

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

“And we have some big decisions to make around that work because there are changes we need to make on site.”

Mr Perkins said the original athletes village built in the early 1980s was not fit for purpose today and joked it was in danger of being heritage listed if redevelopment did not proceed.

He said under current plans the village would be demolished in stages so the AIS’s accommodation capacity would not be disrupted.

“That is an example of some of the things we need to work through,” he said.

“We’ll be planning to get on with that as quickly as possible.

“And I hope it will be more in the vicinity of LA when we’re up and running and ready as opposed to only being ready a year or two out from Brisbane.”

ASC CEO Kieren Perkins

ASC CEO Kieren Perkins says the $10 million for planning a Bruce precinct shows it will move forward. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Speaking to Region after the forum, Mr Perkins said the project was not starting from scratch and nearly a decade of work had already gone into it.

“So while we’ve just got the funding, there has been a lot of people over a long period of time doing a lot of work to prepare for it,” Mr Perkins said.

“We have all the people we need to engage engaged. They’re on the journey with us, which is really just about trying to get as much of the activity concurrently happening as possible.”

But Mr Perkins admitted it was a big undertaking particularly in the current construction environment.

“We’ll continue to push hard to do the things we can control quickly but the reality is you ask anybody in the industry, building stuff at the moment is not easy finding the people, finding the materials, and those sorts of things are hard,” he said.

“So we know we’ve got a mountain to climb but we have to push hard because the reality is that Brisbane is only eight years away and we need to get as much value out of it as we can to support our athletes.”

READ ALSO The Brumbies’ performances so far this year have effectively saved the club

Mr Perkins said he was very confident the project had the support from all parts of government involved to get it moving.

The ACT Government plan for a new stadium was off limits but Mr Perkins said the $10 million in Commonwealth funding for planning work to develop the Bruce precinct where the facility would be sited was significant.

“I think it’s integral to enable all of us who have a vested interest in seeing that environment utilised appropriately to actually come together to get the work done,” he said.

“Because at the end of the day the ACT Government, the Federal Government, ourselves, the community at large, we all have reason to want to see it done and done well, and have the right impact for the community.

“So, it’s a very important piece of the puzzle and I think that commitment to come together and fund it does mean it [the precinct] will move forward.”

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There has to be a community dividend in this, from the earliest stages of planning – unlike decisions of recent years that cut services to the Canberra community.

“… decisions of recent years that cut services to the Canberra community”
Perhaps you can expand on that – i.e. provide some details.

As I see it, a federal government funded institution which brings money spenders to Canberra, and houses them at no cost to ACT government, is a pretty good “community dividend” for ACT.

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