The Queensland government will scrap plans to redevelop the iconic Gabba Stadium, but will not build a new venue for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, despite a recommendation to do so from a review committee.

The new venue plans were unveiled yesterday (March 18) after former Brisbane mayor Graham Quirk provided his recommendations to the state government following a review requested by newly elected Queensland state premier Steven Miles.

The review recommended a AU$3.4 billion ($2.2 billion), 55,000-seat new “world-class stadium” be built in Brisbane’s inner north at Victoria Park and the Gabba Stadium redevelopment be scrapped.

This option would have been more costly than rebuilding the Gabba, a plan that former premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had proposed and was set to cost AU$2.7 billion.

However, the review found “due largely to its age, the Gabba stadium is in poor condition, is operationally inefficient, inaccessible and offers very poor amenities for athletes and staff.’’

The Queensland government mostly agreed with the review and accepted 27 of the 30 recommendations.

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In rejecting the recommendation to build a new stadium, Miles said: “When Queenslanders are struggling with housing and other costs, I cannot justify to them spending AU$3.4 billion on a new stadium.”

Miles announced his government would instead spend AU$1.6 billion to renovate the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre (QSAC) in Nathan in the south of the city, while the 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Notably, this option was suggested by John Coates, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president, last month (February), after IOC officials withdrew support for the AU$2.7 billion plan to demolish and rebuild the Gabba ahead of the games.

An Olympic delegation told the Queensland government during the review of Olympic infrastructure plans that the redevelopment didn’t “stack up” financially and risked turning people against the event.

The Gabba is a multi-purpose stadium located in the suburbs of Brisbane and is mainly used for cricket and Australian Football League matches.

The stadium was due to be demolished in late 2025 after the 'Ashes' cricket encounter between Australia and England, with the project fully funded by the state taxpayer. However, the plan was roundly criticized by local residents due to the demolition of a neighboring heritage-listed primary school and the use of a park for an athletics warm-up track.

The Queensland government has now said in a statement: “The review panel recommended a brand new multi-billion-dollar stadium at Victoria Park. However, as the reviewers noted, significantly more work is required to understand the opportunity before these preliminary findings can be relied upon.

“The government does not believe it would be possible to deliver any new stadium at Victoria Park within the existing agreed funding, and the IOC has noted that a new stadium for the Olympic and Paralympic Games sits outside the “new norm” of using existing or already planned venues.

“The government is therefore ruling out a stadium at Victoria Park, instead favoring investigating upgrades to QSAC and Suncorp.”

In his review, however, Quirk had stated that renovating QSAC had “virtually nil” legacy benefits, particularly as he estimated $1 billion would need to be spent to redevelop the Gabba eventually.

Quirk said: “The Gabba will reach the end of its life by 2030. Now, even if you keep it going beyond that date with some upgrades, at some stage, the Gabba is going to need to be replaced and it is never going to be a tier-one stadium because of the limitation of space.

“As far as the QSAC site is concerned, we just don’t see, after spending around AU$1.5 billion dollars, any significant legacy benefit to the people of Queensland.”

However, the government said the “new direction” for the games ensures costs “remain within the agreed funding envelope of $7.1 billion, to be shared between the state and commonwealth governments.”

Miles said that if the upgrades cost $1 billion, it would still leave “in the order of AU$1 billion dollars” to be split between upgrading Suncorp Stadium and the Gabba.

An independent delivery authority will now oversee the sports venue plan, which is set to be established by mid-2024.

The Brisbane 2032 Olympics is scheduled to be held between July 23 and August 8 of that year, while the Paralympics will be held between August 24 and September 5.