In the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, plenty was happening behind the scenes, with cities jockeying to play a role. The Sydney Olympics used 30 venues for competition events, while more than 60 were used as training bases.
In 1996, following an invitation from the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, the ACT Government lodged a bid to host preliminary round matches in football and be the training base for several teams.
The ACT Government promised to redevelop Bruce Stadium, as it was known then, if the bid to host Olympic football matches was successful.
History shows that Canberra won the bid, hosted preliminary rounds, and provided training venues for visiting teams.
Bruce Stadium was renovated and costs blew out considerably. The political cost to the ACT Government at the time was just as significant.
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I mention this point as it could become a factor if the ACT considers bidding for a role in 2032. And having just read the Auditor-General’s report into the redevelopment, there are plenty of lessons to be learned.
On a positive note, the hosting of games at Bruce Stadium provided a ‘feel good’ factor in the city, which is hard to quantify financially.
In 2000 Olympic Football was played in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. Football was the only sport on the Sydney Olympic program played in other states and territories.
If Brisbane follows suit and invites other cities to host football matches, Canberra Stadium wouldn’t pass muster. At best, it could be a venue for training.
I’m sure Canberra will play a major role in the lead up to the Olympics with plenty of training camps at the AIS, but in terms of hosting events, it is hard to identify many venues in Canberra capable of even hosting lead up events, apart from mountain biking at Stromlo Forest Park and hockey at Lyneham.
With the AIS Arena out of action, there is no indoor facility in Canberra capable of accommodating even warm-up matches for basketball, volleyball, badminton and many more.
We don’t have a competition swimming pool with adequate seating, and there is no decent velodrome for track cycling.
If Brisbane invites Canberra to bid for a role, there would be plenty to consider, including constructing a new stadium. It could also be the catalyst for action in the ACT.