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Balancing Cost and Legacy: Shaping Brisbane’s Olympic Venue Future

May 30, 2024

Paul Allan

City Executive - Queensland

Recent conversations around the ideal Olympic and Paralympic venues ahead of Brisbane 2032 have been dominated by one theme: cost.

While funding considerations play a crucial role in shaping such decisions, when navigating the complexities of venue selection we need to broaden the debate to consider legacy. Focusing only on short-term financial implications risks overlooking the broader implications for our city's future and the long-term opportunity the choices we make today will provide for Brisbane and its residents.

The heart of the venue debate should focus on a balance between cost, value and legacy, and recognise the inherent merits of investing in our city’s infrastructure for lasting impact.

Victoria Park has emerged as a focal point, with recent proposals suggesting that as a site, it has the capacity to host three key Olympic venues at a lower cost compared to alternative options. Constructing venues at Victoria Park could amount to approximately $3.4 billion, a figure notably lower than the existing alternative multiple venue plans. While this is an exciting and enticing solution to Brisbane’s venue search, other sites also merit consideration.

The fate of temporary venues, like the suggested QSAC which, once the games conclude, face the prospect of partial demolition, which could mirror that of the underutilised Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Boondall. These venues fail to provide a lasting legacy for the city’s residents, highlighting the importance of a venue strategy that delivers enduring value.

Brisbane is the fastest growing city in Australia and has been outpacing other capitals for the past 4 years, with a population well in excess of 3 million by time the games come around, we should have an oval stadium that can hold more the 37,000 for an AFL game, which is the current position in Brisbane.

The timeline for project implementation is a critical factor. Back in July 2021, when Brisbane was selected to host the 2032 Olympics, our subtropical city had a massive head start, with an unprecedented 11 years to prepare. With eight years to go, delays in getting projects up and running well in advance of the 2032 games could pose significant risks. We still have time, but no time to waste, to choose a venue that can be delivered in time for the Games.

Having lived in Melbourne before relocating to Brisbane, I've experienced firsthand the profound impact of a well-structured sports and entertainment precinct. Melbourne's Sports and Entertainment Precinct stands as a testament to the enduring legacy and economic dynamism that such precincts can bring to a city. Comprising multiple arenas, including the iconic MCG and Rod Laver Arena, located close to the CBD and seamlessly connected by efficient transport networks, Melbourne's sporting precinct has become a thriving epicentre of activity. It hosts a diverse array of events, from international sporting spectacles to globally renowned concerts and cultural festivals.

Replicating this model in Brisbane holds immense promise for propelling our city onto the global stage. By strategically siting multiple arenas in close proximity to the CBD and with connections to efficient transport options, Brisbane could forge a vibrant precinct that not only attracts visitors but drives economic activity and fosters a sense of civic pride. Moreover, a meticulously planned precinct aligns harmoniously with Brisbane's vision for sustainable urban development, mitigating sprawl, alleviating traffic congestion, and enriching the overall liveability of urban areas.

Clearly, realising such a vision requires strategic planning and investment. Brisbane is growing rapidly and is evolving into a city with a unique identity. To maintain momentum and competitiveness, the city requires larger and better venues capable of hosting major global events. The Olympics presents as the natural catalyst for making the necessary investment.

Further, the density of inner Brisbane warrants closer examination. Unlike Paris, due to host the 2024 Games this July, where major venues are concentrated within the inner city, Brisbane's proposed new infrastructure is situated farther away from the central hub. This disparity underscores the need for strategic urban planning that prioritises accessibility and connectivity.

As Brisbane gears up to 2032, now is the moment to embrace vision and lay the groundwork for a vibrant, dynamic precinct that will shape our city's future for generations to come. By embracing bold, forward-thinking urban planning strategies, Brisbane can position itself as a global leader in sports, entertainment, and sustainability.

As we navigate the complexities of venue selection for Brisbane 2032, let’s not lose sight of the main game - leaving a lasting legacy for future generations. By prioritising investments that balance cost considerations with long-term value, we can ensure that Brisbane's Olympic and Paralympic legacy extends far beyond the four weeks of the Games.

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