18 December 2022

Probing the polls: transport failures and sinking chances of a stadium in the city

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Imagining the new Civic stadium

An artist’s version of plans for a Civic stadium. Photo: GHDWoodhead.

Teething problems with light rail continued after the system seized up in the wake of the Spilt Milk festival.

After thousands were asked to leave the light rail vehicles or walked home along the tracks, there were allegations that the system was not fit for purpose if it was unable to cope with a relatively modest crowd of 45,000.

Defending itself, the government pointed out that the pause was brief and that crowd behaviour was a significant part of the problem.

We asked, Is the light rail system fit for purpose? A total of 1049 readers responded.

Your choices to vote were: No, what’s the point of light rail if it can’t manage a crowd? This received 61 per cent of the total or 638 votes. Alternatively, you could choose to vote Yes, all systems have glitches occasionally, this is no big deal. This received 39 per cent of the total or 411 votes.

This week, we’re wondering about a stadium in the city. The issue has been debated repeatedly over the years without a resolution, and in recent times, the ACT Government has been clear that it’s not at the top of its list of priorities. Their argument is revitalising the Canberra Theatre will create much stronger returns for the community as it can be used constantly.

READ ALSO Stadium proposal faces steep challenges to get over the line

The latest proposal from peak business, entertainment and sporting groups for a combined stadium and convention centre in a new City East Entertainment Precinct is designed to overcome previous hurdles, including how to pay for it and fit the stadium on the Civic pool site next to Parkes Way.

The plan envisages a 30,000-seat rectangular stadium, a 30,000 square metre conference centre (three times the current space), a hotel and a vibrant sports and entertainment district, to be paid in part for via the value of an AIS land hand back. There are also suggestions that part of Glebe Park behind the Convention Centre could be made available for the project.

But those plans appear unlikely to succeed and the Chief Minister has thrown cold water on the project’s viability, noting the government’s focus would now be on working with the ASC on upgrading Canberra Stadium.

Colin Vivian commented that the proposal was “about the same cost as Stage 2A Tram and would give far more value to the community than the $49 million [West Basin] beach”.

John Garvey said of the project, “it’s not so much the size of the city, but the utility of the infrastructure. In Dunedin, if an international Rugby match was put on, pretty much the entire city would turn up!”

Our question this week is:

Do we need a new stadium in the city?

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If a Greens/Labor stadium ever got off tea coaster planning stage, there would be 50 car parks for Greens/Labor polices and everyone else expected to travel on the virtual trams, complete with each passenger receiving a free air guitar

Margaret Freemantle6:19 pm 19 Dec 22

We are the National Capital. It is a no brainer to have a sports stadiim in the city and is part of the Canberra plan. Stick to it and do it!!

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