Gabba set for $1bn upgrade with Olympic bid win
Brisbane's iconic venue could get a huge upgrade should the IOC hand the 2032 Summer games to the Queensland capital
AAP & cricket.com.au
20 April 2021, 03:35 PM AEST
The Gabba, an iconic Australian cricket venue, will undergo a major redevelopment worth more than $1 billion should Brisbane win the hosting rights of the 2032 Summer Olympics.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today the venue, where Australia has lost one Test match in the past 33 years, would be "essentially demolished" if the city wins Olympics hosting rights.
A rebuilt Gabba would hold an increased capacity of 50,000 seats, becoming a state-of-the-art stadium with a pedestrian plaza linking the venue to the Cross River Rail station.
"We've hosted the AFL here, we've hosted cricket here, but for the Olympics, this is front and centre – opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, you name it, it's going to be the best," she told Nine's Today program.
The Gabba was built in 1895 and has undergone two substantial renovations and refurbishments since 1993.
The last major redevelopment was completed in 2005 when a 24-bay grandstand built for $128 million.
The Gabba's public, corporate and media facilities also received a $35 million upgrade in 2020.
Cricket, although not (yet) an Olympic sport, will benefit from the redevelopment, with the 2029-30 Ashes Test potentially the last fixture held at the ground before the upgrade begins.
Australia has lost just one Test match at the Gabba since 1988 – this year's defeat to India that clinched the series for the tourists – and traditionally produces a fast, bouncy pitch.
The Gabba is set to protect its pitch and not move to drop-in pitches, and no detail on timeframes for the work were made available.
Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia's Interim CEO, welcomed the redevelopment plans.
"The Gabba is one of the most important, iconic and historic cricket grounds in Australia and we are delighted that the Queensland Government has agreed to a major redevelopment should Brisbane win the right to host the 2032 Olympic Games," Hockley said.
"Just as the 2000 Olympics bestowed upon cricket the dual legacies of Stadium Australia and the Sydney Showground – both of which became international cricket venues – so, too, would the 2032 Brisbane Games equip the Gabba with state-of-the-art facilities to rival any stadium in the world.
"Australian Cricket is fortunate to have had many of its major venues undergo upgrades in recent years and it would be wonderful to see the Gabba joining that list."
Queensland Cricket chief Terry Svenson added: "That cricket's heritage and particular requirements will be considered in this process as a legacy from the Games is exceptional."
A new-look Gabba would also be a boost for the Brisbane Heat, who boast a parochial fan base in the KFC BBL.
"There is nothing like playing at the Gabba when it's full," said Heat captain Chris Lynn.
"The noise from the crowd is as loud as anything I have played in front of around the world.
"This support we receive from our fans makes these upgrades all the more important.
"Hopefully a better stadium experience will bring more fans into the ground and will help us to keep growing cricket and the Big Bash League.
"Everyone at the Brisbane Heat is excited by what the future holds with a new and improved Gabba stadium."
The International Olympics Committee named Brisbane as its preferred host city in February.
But a final decision rests on detailed discussions with Games chiefs and key commitments from the federal government.
Australian Olympics Committee president John Coates addressed cabinet on Monday, where MPs formally endorsed Brisbane's candidacy.
"This is still contingent on guarantees that need to be received from the federal government," Ms Palaszczuk stressed on Monday.
She has had a discussion with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and more talks will occur in the coming weeks.
"We are basically doing years and months of work in a very short time frame to meet the deadlines the IOC has set us," she said.
But Brisbane is not without rivals.
Earlier this month, South Korea said Seoul had submitted a proposal to host the 2032 games, despite Brisbane's frontrunner status.