Brisbane Olympics 2032: AOC wants to scrap $2.7 billion Gabba stadium rebuild in bombshell call

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Australian Olympic Committee president Ian Chesterman has supported calls to scrap the proposed Gabba redevelopment for the 2032 Brisbane Games, believing there are “more creative solutions” available.

Chesterman’s comments came a day after Olympic powerbroker John Coates also said to abandon plans for a $2.7bn rebuild because “it doesn’t stack up’’ financially.

Chesterman said the AOC supported the review of Games plans.

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“The (International Olympic Committee’s) new norm process is designed to ensure the Games are both affordable and sustainable, with a strong preference for the use of existing or temporary facilities,” he said.

“We believe there are other, more creative solutions than rebuilding the Gabba for the Games which provide a legacy for our sports and even greater access for fans to an exceptional Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We will put these ideas to the review committee.”

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the Gabba rebuild was “dead, buried and cremated” and said Mr Coates was “stating the obvious” in saying the plans should not go ahead.

“In the end all of this has happened because we stood up and we said this needs another look,” the Mayor said.

“I’m glad the state government has come on board, I’m glad John Coates is backing us up as well.

“There’s got to be a better option than wasting $2.7bn on one stadium.”

The Gabba is scheduled to be demolished in late 2025 after the Ashes Test to rebuild the stadium ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

In November, the Queensland government announced it would commit $46m to create the temporary 20-000 seat stadium at Brisbane’s Showgrounds — but requested the remaining $91m cost be split between Brisbane city council, AFL and cricket authorities and the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland so AFL and cricket games can be held there during the rebuild.

Despite the controversy, plenty of sport commentators believe Olympic organisers should push through the pain and continue rebuilding the Gabba, pointing out its age compared to other Australian stadiums.

ABC sports broadcaster Quentin Hull wrote on X: “As frenzied and varied as the reaction to a rethink on the Gabba re-build has been, it’s commonplace for the road to planning and executing the Olympics to be bumpy.

“Calls the “scrap the whole thing” are a gross & unintelligent over reaction.”

3AW host Shane McInnes said: “Excuse me? Scrap? There is no venue in Brisbane currently worthy of hosting an Olympics opening ceremony nor athletics events.

“Failure to upgrade the ‘Gabba now ahead of 2032 leaves Brisbane lagging as a sporting destination. Short sighted, political bull s**t at its finest.”

Awaiting the findings of the review are the Brisbane Lions, who play their home matches at the Gabba.

While the Lions had no comment to make on Thursday, a statement issued by the club in November last year said it supported a Gabba redevelopment.

“The venue has been our home for the past 30 years and the redevelopment ensures it will be fit for purpose for the next 30 years,” Lions chairman Andrew Wellington said.

“As a club we’re likely to hit 60,000 members in 2024, we’re the hirer attracting the largest crowds, we’ve had seven sellouts this year and I have no doubt we will be filling the new Gabba on a regular basis prior to the Olympics and for years to come.

“We understand the need and also the wider benefits this project and associated urban renewal works will bring to the city and the wider precinct as a result of projects like Cross River Rail.

“There’s benefit here for commuters, event goers, new community spaces and the delivery of a commercial and a residential precinct inclusive of affordable housing opportunities.

“We look forward to receiving a more detailed Gabba update and a decision on the Lions’ displacement venue from government in the near future, recognising the needs of our many fans and the extended period of displacement.”

However, both the Lions and the Gabba’s other tenants, Queensland Cricket, baulked at being asked by the state government to contribute millions of dollars to help fund an upgrade to the Brisbane Showgrounds, which had been as the home ground for the Lions and the Queensland cricket team while the Gabba was being developed.

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