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

Dan Stewart 22 June 2019 180
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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180 Responses to Should the new stadium debate shift to Turner instead of Civic?
nothappyjan 9:24 pm 22 Jun 19

Yeah, put it in Civic with no parking for thousands of people and expect everyone to catch 3 buses or move to the end of the tram track and see how that works out. Or you could just pour petrol on hundreds of millions of dollars and light it up as that would be a more efficient waste of money.

Nabil Hossain Nabil Hossain 9:10 pm 22 Jun 19

No way. Civic

Alex Elliott Alex Elliott 8:36 pm 22 Jun 19

Do we even need to spend all that money on a new stadium? Surely we should be fixing more urgent issues in Canberra first before considering a stadium.

    Gareth Lawson Gareth Lawson 11:19 pm 22 Jun 19

    Alex Elliott yes we do

    Karl Varnsen Karl Varnsen 8:43 am 23 Jun 19

    Need a new stadium

    David Todd David Todd 9:00 am 23 Jun 19

    Stadiums bring money into the economy

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 3:12 pm 24 Jun 19

    Alex Elliott 100% need a new stadium

    James Watt James Watt 5:36 pm 24 Jun 19

    Can’t see how we can afford NOT to build a new stadium

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 6:59 pm 24 Jun 19

    Alex Elliott it’s a multi-purpose event centre capable of bringing world class entertainment to Canberra.

    Yes it is needed .. way over due

Meagan Higgins Meagan Higgins 8:28 pm 22 Jun 19

Build a pool in Turner if you must and leave the residents in peace. Build a stadium in Civic where major events are less impactful to existing residents and at least partially served by existing arterial networks.

Andrew Douglas Andrew Douglas 7:45 pm 22 Jun 19

I can hear the noise complaints already.

Doug Farr Doug Farr 6:54 pm 22 Jun 19

Jarrod Sharman I was actually thinking this would be a good spot for it the other day.

Kurt Neist Kurt Neist 6:52 pm 22 Jun 19

Tart up the one we already have, if it needs it, and spend money on stuff we actually need.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 6:57 pm 24 Jun 19

    Kurt Neist like a new covered multi-purpose event centre .. Arh yea a stadium

Kori Plumridge Kori Plumridge 6:16 pm 22 Jun 19

Close to the city will benefit businesses. People eat at restaurants before the game and if they want to drink after pubs, tongues and night clubs are nearby 🤷🏽‍♂️

Dale Todling Dale Todling 6:07 pm 22 Jun 19

Great idea. Best !!

    Danielle Toner Danielle Toner 8:41 pm 22 Jun 19

    Dale Todling just nope. The traffic in what are already car parked streets and the noise for way to many residents is a no for me. Those fields definitely need a makeover but not this.

    Dale Todling Dale Todling 8:59 pm 22 Jun 19

    Danielle Toner As a regular user of Civic pool, I was more commenting on the idea that they don't build on the site of Civic pool. Good point re noise for locals.

    Danielle Toner Danielle Toner 9:02 pm 22 Jun 19

    Dale Todling you are right, it would be a shame to see civic pool go. I reckon more needs to be done along the rail line, EPIC in particular needs a major overhaul.

    Dale Todling Dale Todling 9:07 pm 22 Jun 19

    Agreed. Put the light rail to good use and do something along its route

Capital Retro 6:06 pm 22 Jun 19

Before the ACT government wastes a few million dollars on a study as to where build another arena they should read this:

    Maya123 8:53 pm 22 Jun 19

    I like this comment in the link.

    "And football is at an added disadvantage in Australia because many refuse to acknowledge that the sport even exists."

Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 6:03 pm 22 Jun 19

What if The Forage and other events were encouraged to run outside our current stadium? Plenty of parking close to good roads, bring back more game day buses. Canberra is a small city, saying the location is a detraction for people attending is a cop out. I remember when Bruce stadium was a sell out for the brumbies. If the brumbies, raiders, and future A league team made game day a better experience people would attend

    Ian McTaggart Ian McTaggart 6:52 pm 22 Jun 19

    Patrick J Pentony of course.

    Gareth Lawson Gareth Lawson 11:26 pm 22 Jun 19

    Patrick J Pentony the stadium will pack out for big games, that's not the point. You move it to the city where people could go before and after then you change the game day experience. Its not just up to the club's.

    Plus the point people against the stadium are missing is that GIO is old and outdated. It will be up against the best stadiums in the country with 2 new stadiums and a fully redeveloped one in Sydney, Suncorp in Brisbane, 2 World class ones in Melbourne, 1 in Geelong, Adelaide oval is upgraded, a new one in Perth, Gold Coast and Townsville will both be modern... leaves Canberra well behind!

    Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 12:43 am 23 Jun 19

    Gareth Lawson I was busy tonight but how many at finals superugby in Canberra tonight? Serious question last week there were less than 10k for the last fans of regular season

    Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 12:46 am 23 Jun 19

    Gareth Lawson just checked 11112 made it to GIO Stadium Canberra for superugby finals football. Terrible

    William Brooks William Brooks 12:40 pm 23 Jun 19

    Canberra games will only make capacity if they install under seat heaters. Fair weather fans!

Rhys Dennewald Rhys Dennewald 5:56 pm 22 Jun 19

Build it in tuggeranong

Greg Hutchison Greg Hutchison 5:25 pm 22 Jun 19

Site might be adequate and would stop selling off EPIC. Not sure the tram has enough capacity to take people away from such a facility quickly. This would impact EPIC and CIVIC sites. EPIC migth be best as people could drive to it easier

    Brad Miller Brad Miller 5:41 pm 22 Jun 19

    Greg Hutchison the train station at EPIC has the capability of staging 6 trains there to disburse people quickly + there would be buses going to other areas

    Greg Hutchison Greg Hutchison 8:45 am 23 Jun 19

    Brad Miller yeah the depot is close. I think the capacity of the LR is over rated most passengers have to stand. It will struggle in peak hours with normal loads eventually. But yeah around EPIC might be best for a new stadium

Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 5:02 pm 22 Jun 19

The Turner parklands are required for drainage / flooding mitigation anyway, aren't they?

Tony Hardy Tony Hardy 4:50 pm 22 Jun 19

Here is a revolutionary idea. Why not build it southside. Apart from Manuka oval just about major sporting complex is Northside.

Cee Bee Cee Bee 4:36 pm 22 Jun 19

A viable and cheaper alternative, with positive effects beyond the immediately obvious, might be to instead create an environment and processes to bring restaurants and bars to Bruce. It’s a brilliant location for access and parking, with heaps of suitable spaces, including under-utilised spaces along Braybrooke street opposite the stadium. Businesses often seem to struggle there due to the high costs involved, so perhaps a program of subsidised rent, along with other incentives and a plan to encourage popular types of bars and restaurants, such as those in Braddon.

    Tony Morris Tony Morris 4:44 pm 22 Jun 19

    Cee Bee Bruce is in the middle of nowhere. Once the AIS issue is sorted the whole place will be demolished and houses/units put on that vast area. Stadium in the city makes so much more sence.

Harper Pirsig Harper Pirsig 4:11 pm 22 Jun 19

A new sports stadium is required, somewhere in the city, or in walking distance to the city. This site would be ok but Civic pool site would be better.

    Cate Green Cate Green 1:02 pm 23 Jun 19

    Why does the new stadium have to be in the city?

    Harper Pirsig Harper Pirsig 2:44 pm 23 Jun 19

    Cate Green it doesn’t have to be but other cities have demonstrated there is a commercial benefit to having sports stadiums, restaurants, conference facilities and other entertainment venues in close proximity, preferably all within walking distance from each other and supported by public transport access.

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 3:16 pm 24 Jun 19

    Cate Green because entertainment is a fundamental part of a big, thriving city. It’s key to a city people want to visit and live in.

Gwg Heldon Gwg Heldon 3:36 pm 22 Jun 19

I would also consider the Greyhound Stadium. It's sitting there doing nothing, the site could hold a rectangular stadium with a 25-30,000 capacity with a multi storey car park and hotel attached.

Right now, there are a few drinking and eating options near by and transport links, right now, are good.

    Daniel Königs Daniel Königs 3:46 pm 22 Jun 19

    What like the ACT rural fire service? Or geoscience Australia? How is it any better than Bruce? At least Bruce would likely get light rail eventually on Hayden Dr, Symonston will never have any good public transport, ever event would be chartered.

    Gwg Heldon Gwg Heldon 4:42 pm 22 Jun 19

    Daniel Königs how about the Italian club at the golf course, Harmonie German club, the Spanish club and the Golf Driving Range.

    The greyhound track is next to the highway and Hindmarsh Drive and near Canberra Avenue. There are two bus routes going past and a couple of more near it.

    Also, the likelihood of Canberra getting light rail beyond stage 2 in the next 10 years is slim.

    The Greyhound Track is not as stupid an idea as you may think it is.

    Michael Langridge Michael Langridge 4:52 pm 22 Jun 19

    Should have been at rugby league park.

    Turner has existing food places like duxton, the ruc...

    The white eagles and Croatian clubs would suddenly get boom patronage if they did gameday specials.

    Parking an issue tho.

    Civic pool area would still be the best

    Gwg Heldon Gwg Heldon 4:55 pm 22 Jun 19

    Michael Langridge I agree. Should've been all along. 30 years ago.

Paul Dowden Paul Dowden 3:36 pm 22 Jun 19

Nope. Sullivan Park, right on the NW corner of Mouat St and Northbourne Ave. It’s on arterial routes and light rail, close to shops, plenty of space for more accomodation.

    Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 5:48 pm 22 Jun 19

    Paul Dowden good idea 🙂

    Paul Dowden Paul Dowden 6:17 pm 22 Jun 19

    Oh, alright: Hat tip Paddy Pentony 😉🎩

    (Anyway you hadn’t commented yet)

    Rob Mackay Rob Mackay 12:35 am 24 Jun 19

    Paul isn't that Southwell Park? But yes, agree with that location.

Dean Colwill Dean Colwill 3:00 pm 22 Jun 19

Sounds like a great idea.

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