Should the new stadium debate shift to Turner instead of Civic?

Dan Stewart 22 June 2019 139
An overlay of Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta (30,000 seats) on the Turner space to scale shows a neat fit for the proposal. Image: Supplied.

An overlay of Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta (30,000 seats) on the Turner space to scale shows a neat fit for the proposal. Image: Supplied.

It has been interesting to watch the latest round of excitement and debate that has been generated by the perennial proposal to replace our tiring stadium in Bruce with a new facility in Canberra’s CBD.

This government’s proposal to build a new stadium on the existing Civic Pool site was originally put forward as part of the much grander City to the Lake project, a master plan that seems to have fallen foul with the City Renewal Authority.

City to the Lake was to include a new mixed-use precinct and aquatic facility in West Basin, a new convention centre on City Hill, a new stadium on the existing pool site and a raft of new developments on the remaining surface car parks and surplus sites scattered through the CBD.

A significant upgrade to Parkes Way was also envisaged, lowering and shifting the existing alignment to the south, relocating Coranderrk Pond and bringing the City closer to the Lake while ensuring the preferred north-south alignment for the new stadium.

While there are a good many arguments for bringing Canberra Stadium closer to the CBD, one has to wonder whether the original vision is still relevant and realistic given the changes that we have seen since City to the Lake was first announced. For example, the various planning studies for West Basin in recent years suggest the Territory is still predisposed to development in this area, however, the new aquatic facility seems highly unlikely, raising the obvious question about a replacement for Civic Pool.

The Civic pool also requires refurbishment but how can it best meet the needs of the growing Civic population?

The University of New South Wales is also lining up a new development for the car park site opposite CIT and, if recent news is true, a good portion of the CIT site itself, and a new convention centre on City Hill seems to be falling further and further down the list of infrastructure priorities, one imagines in large part due to the price tag that was attached to the Fuksas design.

If the ACT Government is committed to bringing UNSW to City east and up to 20,000 new residents to Canberra’s CBD in the coming years, the need for a City aquatic centre is only going to grow. With this in mind, it would be timely to explore alternatives to the current proposal that might deliver similar or greater benefits (economic, social and environmental) than the original vision but with far less inconvenience and a much smaller price tag.

Consider, for example, the following proposal: develop a new City Stadium on the Turner Parklands to the north of ANU — the site is large, flat, perfectly aligned, close to light rail, well located to the RUC and new Raiders facility at Braddon, and next door to a huge and growing student population.

The existing pool site can immediately be taken to market for redevelopment with a requirement to build and operate a new publicly accessible Olympic Pool as part of the new development — the condition of Civic Pool is much worse than Canberra Stadium and it should be replaced as a matter of priority.

The need to spend many hundreds of millions of dollars on upgrading Parkes Way is eliminated, along with the many years of traffic carnage that would ensue if this major arterial was to be fully redeveloped. The government could instead significantly widen the bridges connecting Civic to Commonwealth Park and New Acton to West Basin to remove the conflict between pedestrians and cyclists and in parallel, Coranderrk Pond could be replaced with traffic lights to manage the morning and evening peaks that are currently exacerbated by the existing roundabout.

Dan Stewart has a long history in Canberra urban planning. He spent 14 years in ACT government executive positions before moving to the private sector.

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139 Responses to Should the new stadium debate shift to Turner instead of Civic?
Paul Jacko Paul Jacko 11:07 am 28 Jun 19

Build it in Gungahlin the Capital of Canberra

woppadingo woppadingo 8:47 am 28 Jun 19

Old Trafford was redeveloped in the 1990s

Crazed_Loner Crazed_Loner 11:29 pm 27 Jun 19

Seriously? Plonking it in residential area with no parking available and nowhere near existing bars and restaurants. Just because existing parkland looks ‘vacant’ around the joint doesn’t make it suitable to plonk a stadium there.
Given this, and the restrictions of the pool site for a north-south stadium (let alone the need for enough parking nearby and the desirability of retaining the Civic pool), I believe there are only two realistic options for a new stadium: a redevelopment of Bruce, or at Phillip Oval. The advantages of the second are that it is adjacent to existing (and proposed) public transport, it is close to existing bars and restaurants, it will easily accommodate a stadium footprint, it is near to the geographic centre of Canberra and it has plenty of car parking nearby already and possibly the potential for expansion if required. Turner offers almost none of these – forget it.

Graham Cooke Graham Cooke 5:34 pm 27 Jun 19

The stadium at Bruce is less than 50 years old and is described as ‘tiring’ and ‘out of date’. Old Trafford in Manchester, UK, the home of Manchester United, is more than 100 years old and is totally fit for purpose. Upgrades at Bruce would be far less expensive than a totally new stadium in the city.

Ashley Jansen Ashley Jansen 1:04 pm 27 Jun 19

Oh well why not put it in stromlo somewhere

Gary Sullivan Gary Sullivan 10:20 pm 26 Jun 19

What's wrong with Bruce stadium Where The F is everyone gonna park in the city

Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 11:13 am 25 Jun 19

Local gov keeps jamming more highrises into town without any extra parking spaces for tourists or visitors. The swimming pool is one of the only spaces left in the city without a high rise so far.

Where exactly would all the traffic to a stadium in Turner park? And imagine living next to the noise a venue in the middle of Turner’s dense housing would create.

Craig Jensen Craig Jensen 7:18 pm 24 Jun 19

CITY , Restaurants, link to the casino via overpass ✅ - great for local businesses.


Gunther Beilicz Gunther Beilicz 12:22 pm 24 Jun 19

Bars cafes and restaurants seem to be the solution for every build!!!! Yea so some more poor bastards can loose their shirts! If they are such a sure thing why aren’t the developers investing in them???

JS9 JS9 11:17 am 24 Jun 19

Interesting idea, though traffic, parking and Sullivan’s Creek flooding would be huge issues to overcome, let alone the local residents that probably would be none too pleased with having that dumped on their doorstep. As a resident not far from that site, it doesn’t to be honest worry me, but plenty of others would not be so happy.

The identified site I do think is under utilised somewhat – though I’m not sure dumping a massive stadium on it would be a good way to utilise it.

The site that should have been considered for mine is Northbourne Oval – though it would run into the same issues with local residents, at least its an established professional sporting facility site for that. But far too late for that now.

Would probably be of great interest to most on here as to where exactly in the ‘private sector’ the author now works – I understand its a certain development company….

Greg Thompson Greg Thompson 10:28 am 24 Jun 19

Don't see any parking eh

Kieran May Kieran May 8:51 am 24 Jun 19

Great idea. Let's jam everything into Civic. Let's make all the businesses, bars in particular, richer. Bugger the rest.

    Matt Fallon Matt Fallon 2:53 pm 24 Jun 19

    Kieran May your likely to get better attendance in the City.

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 3:12 pm 24 Jun 19

    Kieran your sarcasm actually masks a great idea

    Kieran May Kieran May 5:52 pm 24 Jun 19

    Matt Fallon You may be right, but I'd want to see solid evidence. Or is a new stadium in Civic going to be cheaper and more comfortable than elsewhere? :-)

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 5:54 pm 24 Jun 19

    Kieran May sprawl is the enemy my friend. Vibrancy, entertainment, sound and atmosphere all belong in our busiest areas. The costs of building a stadium won’t very much - steel and concrete are steel and concrete.

    Matt Fallon Matt Fallon 6:16 pm 24 Jun 19

    Its certainly more comfortable then the wind channel in Bruce. If you do some research you will find inner city stadiums generally get better attendance.

    Kieran May Kieran May 7:36 pm 24 Jun 19

    Elroy Sprawl is one. Congestion is the other. :-)

    Pam Wood Pam Wood 10:51 am 25 Jun 19

    There's no car parking in Civic now. You will have to walk from Bruce.

    Kieran May Kieran May 11:10 am 25 Jun 19

    Pam Take the tram. Oh, I forgot. It won’t run from your place to the new stadium. 🤔🤭

    Pam Wood Pam Wood 4:53 pm 25 Jun 19

    Nope not in my lifetime anyway

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 11:27 pm 25 Jun 19

    Kieran May it’s a city!!

    Kieran May Kieran May 7:54 am 26 Jun 19

    Elroy And it wants to be just like every other crowded, congested, dark and predictable city. The drive to do so is more about money than life

Ben Oostermeyer Ben Oostermeyer 8:31 am 24 Jun 19

Because the residents of Turner would never consider objecting to a stadium in the middle of their residential bliss. There’s enough money in that suburb to take the fight to the international court in The Hague. Stupid suggestion.

    Gail Langendorf Gail Langendorf 11:09 pm 24 Jun 19

    10+ year resident here and I'd love it.

Robert Verdon Robert Verdon 11:55 pm 23 Jun 19

NO to either — but more public housing in the inner city is more important than any stadium

Nigel Jennens Nigel Jennens 10:04 pm 23 Jun 19

If you don’t like the idea of a stadium in civic, the only other logical choice is in Woden. Knock down Football Park, the pool, ice rink and the other small buildings there then redevelop the whole thing. Brand new rectangular stadium with a huge multi storey car park (plus all the parks that are already in Woden), a new pool and ice rink (these really show their age now) and possibly add another hotel. Plenty of restaurants, clubs and pubs near by and this new precinct will no doubt attract other new businesses. The bus interchange is only 200m away and there is easy access to major roads in every direction. If the tram actually makes it south of the lake, it will go right past this new stadium.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 6:57 pm 24 Jun 19

    Nigel Jennens nah, that’s Southside


Jo Binkin Jo Binkin 9:45 pm 23 Jun 19

We don’t need a new football stadium, we have plenty of perfectly good ones already, build a new ice rink!

rationalobserver rationalobserver 6:19 pm 23 Jun 19

Who benefits, and who pays?
Let those who will benefit foot the bill.
The taxpayer wont benefit as it will never be cash positive.
The punters wont benefit as they will still be paying admission fees.

Karen Schelbach Karen Schelbach 3:29 pm 23 Jun 19

Why would you put it smack bang in the middle of suburbia? No parking. Noise issues for residents. There’s so much land in the ACT, surely further out of town would be a much better option.

    Andrew Douglas Andrew Douglas 4:26 pm 23 Jun 19

    Not necessarily. It needs to be in or near a commercial hub. The success of Docklands and Suncorp can attest to that.

    That's why the old civic pool site makes perfect sense.

    Wendy Urquhart Wendy Urquhart 4:53 pm 23 Jun 19

    Karen Ess public transport is the only way to get to slot if big stadiums these days

    Karen Schelbach Karen Schelbach 4:55 pm 23 Jun 19

    true. Has to be on the tram line?

Cate Green Cate Green 1:05 pm 23 Jun 19

How about we actually fill Bruce stadium, even just once before building a new one. If people aren’t turning up to watch football a new stadium isn’t going to fix that!

Of course the new stadium will happen & it will be in Civic because our dear leader has decided he wants it there & no amount of corruption or waste will convince Canberra to vote him out.

Drew Allen Drew Allen 11:55 am 23 Jun 19

Needs to be near the city

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