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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?
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 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 Ess Karen Ess 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 Ess Karen Ess 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

Pj Williams Pj Williams 11:43 am 23 Jun 19

Not going to happen.

Brad Miller Brad Miller 11:42 am 23 Jun 19

Build a new stadium & car park at Exhibition Park at MITCHELL as part of redeveloping the park into a major events precinct. The light rail goes there already and the Northbourne ave corridor is turning into a city like Passage from the city to Mitchell anyway. With opportunity’s for bars & cafe to open at a lot of the train stops into the city or into Gungahlin. This will benefit week day commuters as well.

With GDE/Tuggeranong parkway & Horsepark drive/Majura parkway/Monaro Hwy on either side of Mitchell Exhibition Park has freeway like roads to it for south siders to get there & not clog up city streets with no parking.

    Leigh Roy Wooten Leigh Roy Wooten 12:46 pm 23 Jun 19

    Brad Miller having it in epic would take away the idea of getting people into city to spend money. Instead you just moving a now Bruce stadium in the middle of no where to another place in the middle of no where..and parking issues that why they the built the light rail to get people around Canberra and when!! If??? It happen light rail heading out to tuggernong and Belco would work efficiently just same as getting out of Olympic stadium in Sydney

    Cate Green Cate Green 1:01 pm 23 Jun 19


    Brad Miller Brad Miller 1:21 pm 23 Jun 19

    Leigh Roy Wooten The EPIC Stadium idea is a copy of the Homebush stadium transport model.

    Homebush Stadium area is an entertainment precinct between 2 major town centres Sydney city & Parramatta linked by train.

    Canberra only has the 1 train line so far that goes to 2 town center Canberra city & Gungahlin, with EPIC in between. When our light rail network is completed people will change trains in the city just like Sydney people do at central

    Harper Pirsig Harper Pirsig 9:51 am 24 Jun 19

    Leigh Roy Wooten except EPIC isn’t really in the middle of nowhere and Canberrans are very familiar with the venue. Add a few restaurants and other entertainment venues and its perfect, and right next to the growth suburbs of Gungahlin. Easy access to light rail and highway too. A sensible suggestion in my view.

    Harper Pirsig Harper Pirsig 9:53 am 24 Jun 19

    Brad Miller great suggestion!

    Gunther Beilicz Gunther Beilicz 12:28 pm 24 Jun 19

    Harper Pirsig Yes and some more restaurants! That’ll fix it!!!!

Mark Valerius Mark Valerius 11:13 am 23 Jun 19

Turner would crash at the proposal stage. The argument of not enough parking is irrelevant and boring now. More people work in the city than those that go to games at GIO and they all manage to travel/park without issue. Various stadiums in Australia have no parking and fans rely on free public transport to games and concerts. There’s ample parking in or near the city and would be within easy walking distance to the stadium. Even Townsville is building a new stadium next to the city centre and their population is less than half ours. The pool is poorly maintained and an eyesore. The benefit to local businesses and hotels in the city and nearby would be incredible. Manuka is a perfect example when the Giants come to town. But let’s keeping sitting on our hands and let the city continue to fall behind the rest of the nation.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 6:55 pm 24 Jun 19

    Mark Valerius good post mate .. totally agree

Nic Cortese Nic Cortese 11:05 am 23 Jun 19

Lol. Classic armchair planner solution.

Where are people going to park and where are you going to divert Sullivan's Creek?

Peter Hyde Peter Hyde 9:24 am 23 Jun 19

Transport problems and nimbies in Turner would stop this before it started. Sell Bruce sight after the feds hand it over and redevelop the civic pool site and include a new pool in the redevelopment.

Dave Wood Dave Wood 9:09 am 23 Jun 19

Waste of money

Great stadium

Better than any car parking in Sydney.

If it Ain’t broke no need to fix it!

I’m a season ticket holder at Bankwest and love the stadium

But getting to the car is like Boxing Day sales mad rush..

I’ve never had that drama at Bruce...

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 3:14 pm 24 Jun 19

    Dave Wood the stadium at Bruce sucks. If parking is your primary consideration you are officially banned from having an opinion. It’s last on the list of items to consider

    Dave Wood Dave Wood 4:48 pm 24 Jun 19

    Grab a tissue champ

    Nothing wrong with Bruce stadium!

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 5:49 pm 24 Jun 19

    Issues with Bruce:

    Too much parking discourages PT

    Poor PT options other than the bus

    Hospitality infrastructure struggles to accommodate amateur sports - zero chance for big events post 2023

    It’s a sprawl stadium - you’re a million miles from the action

    Built out rather than up - as a result the atmosphere is the worst in any pro Aussie stadium

    No roof for inevitability of bad weather in CBR

    It’s in the middle of the bush - zero commercial opportunities for surrounds

    Wifi is dreadful - limits innovation in hospitality and game day offering

    No recovery facilities for players, sheds are tired.

    All of these combine for a poor user experience which will be addressed by a stadium in the city

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 11:26 pm 25 Jun 19

    Dave Wood it’s inevitable we’ll get a new stadium Dave.

    Dave Wood Dave Wood 5:47 am 26 Jun 19

    Elroy Jones

    Eventually yes!

Anthony Olivera Anthony Olivera 8:51 am 23 Jun 19

Or maybe, just maybe, we could build more car parks in the city? 🤔

Rob Jackson Rob Jackson 8:24 am 23 Jun 19

Why would you want to build a stadium in the middle of an established suburb?

Gareth Lawson Gareth Lawson 11:31 pm 22 Jun 19

Turner would never work, to much traffic and the neighborhood would be up in arms.

If CIT was to move from Reid wouldn't that be a better spot?

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, a recently upgraded one in Geelong, Adelaide oval is upgraded, a new one in Perth, Gold Coast and Townsville will both be modern... leaves Canberra so far behind for sports and other events it's not funny.

    Lachlan Mumberson Lachlan Mumberson 1:35 pm 23 Jun 19

    I like this idea but I think the CIT spot is being taken over by UNSW?

    Gareth Lawson Gareth Lawson 1:46 pm 23 Jun 19

    Lachlan Mumberson not sure if the deals been done?

Aco Kovaceski Aco Kovaceski 10:27 pm 22 Jun 19

Current stadium seats 25k. Tonight’s attendance, <10k

Jim Hosie Jim Hosie 10:09 pm 22 Jun 19

Maybe finish the train first so it actually services all of Canberra?

Tim Hough Tim Hough 9:50 pm 22 Jun 19

I'm sure the residents will be trilled at that idea....

Christopher Cole Christopher Cole 9:38 pm 22 Jun 19

Nowhere for parking. Half of civic already clogs up the surrounding streets in Turner every weekday to avoid paying for parking (or getting to work another way).

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