I’d love a new football stadium in Canberra.
I’d also like a new Tesla, a holiday home down the coast and an annual overseas holiday.
But they’re not going to happen anytime soon.
The stadium is the zombie story that simply refuses to die, despite regular and definitive answers from our sports-loving Chief Minister.
For years now, he has listed the order of infrastructure priorities: first, the Canberra Theatre redevelopment, and he has all the data to show why it will pay its way, then a stadium, but not in the city, and the convention centre.
And, of course, now there is a new $1 billion hospital to build. We all know about light rail and don’t forget the housing crisis.
Mr Barr has also said repeatedly that the stadium’s future rests with the Australian Institute of Sport redevelopment at Bruce, about which he will say more leading up to the ACT Budget in June.
This week he said a new stadium was about five or six years away, so it is coming, just not on the Civic pool site that the Raiders, Brumbies and their cheerleaders in some sections of the media have been clamouring for. It just isn’t big enough, and there aren’t any others, unless you want to eat into Commonwealth Park.
Of course, there are engineering solutions for everything if you can afford it.
But the clubs, NRL and Rugby Australia haven’t put up any cash. It’s all on the taxpayers – ACT and Federal.
That hasn’t stopped the NRL from making a submission to a Parliamentary committee about how Canberra Stadium at Bruce is no longer fit for purpose and Canberra would lose out on international games (that were never coming here in the first place).
Chief Minister Andrew Barr, when asked the inevitable question about a new stadium at the announcement of the design partner for the Canberra Theatre redevelopment that does have a firm business case, fired back that the NRL should put its money where its mouth is.
Not a chance, because stadiums are not known for making much money, and it knows this.
And the biggest competitor stadiums have is the comfy armchair at home and live TV – and that’s the real money spinner for the NRL.
Mr Barr also said the government wasn’t here to pay for their sport, which isn’t quite true, given the amount of money already shelled out to Big Sport in this town, but the point was made about such a huge investment.
Of course, the couple of hundred million the Albanese Government has slung the Tasmanians to help them build a Hobart stadium for the new AFL franchise has raised questions about why Canberra is missing out.
Well, the Liberal Government there is now in strife because two of its members have quit the party over the colossal amount of money going to the stadium while Tasmanians struggle to put a roof over their heads and put food on the table.
There probably will be some Commonwealth money involved given a new stadium looks like being adjacent to the AIS precinct but, when it comes to priorities, it has to wait in line.
But don’t expect this story to die, even when an announcement of some sort is made next month.
The city stadium boosters will still be screaming about how the Bruce facility is falling down or how far it is from everybody, despite nothing being that far from anybody in Canberra and free public transport laid on, how cold it is and how much business in Civic will lose.
As I said, a state-of-the-art football stadium in the city would be grand.
Just don’t expect taxpayers to supply the land and foot the bill at the expense of more compelling things to spend our money on.