Olympic officials have withdrawn support for an AU$2.7 billion ($1.76 billion) plan to demolish and rebuild the iconic Gabba Stadium in Queensland, Australia ahead of Brisbane hosting the 2032 Summer Games.
Earlier this week (February 7) an Olympic delegation, which included the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president John Coates, told the Queensland government’s review of Olympic infrastructure plans that the redevelopment didn’t “stack up” financially and risked turning people against the event.
He suggested using other existing venues instead, including Suncorp Stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies and the Queensland Sport and Athletics Center in Nathan for athletics.
The move comes after Steven Miles, the newly elected Queensland state premier, paused the rebuild plan and requested a review by former Brisbane mayor Graham Quirk last month.
The review is set to make its recommendations to the state government on March 18.
In a statement yesterday, Andrew Liveris, the Brisbane 2032 organizing committee president, said Coates’ words “should be listened to very carefully.”
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He added: “I lament the loss of time, and the distraction that has taken a little away from the amazing accomplishment of winning these games.
“We need to move forward post haste after this independent review is completed. We need to not re-litigate every decision on venues and infrastructure.”
The Brisbane Cricket Ground, popularly known as 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 test between Australia and England, with the AU$2.7 billion project fully funded by the state taxpayer. However, the plan has been 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.
Responding to Coates’ suggestions, Australian Olympic Committee president Ian Chesterman said he and the organization supported the review of the Games plans, saying: “The IOC’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.
“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.”
Grace Grace, Queensland’s infrastructure minister, said to Australian media she would consider the views of Coates and Liveris but did not want to prematurely declare the project dead.
She said: “We want to deliver legacy outcomes, transport, and all those fantastic legacy projects that we’ve got on the list already, but we also have to deliver venues.
“If there’s a better way of doing it as a minister, I’m more than happy to plow ahead and deliver them along those lines.”
The Brisbane 2023 Olympic Games is scheduled to be held between July 23 and August 8 that year, while the Paralympic Games will be held between August 24 and September 5.