With indecision over the funding, the site, and the capacity, the proposed new stadium for Canberra appears to be gridlocked.
At least four locations have been proposed: the current stadium site at Bruce, Exhibition Park at Mitchell, the Civic Olympic Pool site and the Turner Parklands.
The Civic Olympic Pool site was originally put forward as the preferred option given the proximity to the city with its amenity, effectively fulfilling the brief put forward in the City to the Lake master plan.
But the Civic Olympic Pool site appears to have fallen off the radar because of the size of the footprint, which would limit the size of the stadium. There was also the argument about the direction the stadium would need to be positioned to allow the grass to grow with appropriate sunlight.
The escalating cost is also deemed prohibitive because of the proximity to Parkes Way and the need for the stadium to overhang the roadway. Alternatively, Parkes Way could be realigned but at considerable expense.
Mitchell was briefly mentioned as a potential site but without any real momentum, while the Turner Parklands option garnered even less public support.
Rebuilding on the existing Canberra Stadium footprint is a possibility, but it goes away from the original concept of a stadium linking the city to the lake.
With this concept in mind, is it worth considering Commonwealth Park as a potential site for the new stadium?
The National Capital Authority is the custodian of the 34.2-hectare park on behalf of the Australian Government. The NCA controls the maintenance of the park.
Stage 88 in the middle of Commonwealth Park is used for outdoor concerts, with the annual flower show Floriade a major feature since 1988.
Is it worth at least looking at the option of building a new stadium on this site?
It wouldn’t be as restrictive regarding land size as the Civic Olympic Pool site. It’s also near Civic and would be in keeping with the City to the Lake concept.
But Floriade is a major attraction for Canberra and needs to be protected.
Maybe Floriade could be held at another nearby venue. Perhaps Weston Park is a possibility, or Lennox Gardens, just over the Commonwealth Bridge.
The reason why I am putting forward Commonwealth Park as an option is the impasse that has developed with every other potential site encountering obstacles, such as size and location.
Canberra also urgently needs an upgraded Convention Centre with the Capital being outpaced by possibly every other major city attracting conventions and conferences as a major industry.
If the stadium isn’t to be built on the site of the Civic Olympic Pool, is this a potential location for a new Convention Centre?
As I said at the outset, the main reason for putting forward another option for the location of a new stadium is frustration at the lack of progress. The longer this is put off, the more likely it is relegated to the ‘too hard’ basket.