The Australian Olympic Committee's (AOC) bombshell call to scrap a proposed $2.7 billion redevelopment of the Gabba spells bad news for cricket in Queensland. That's according to veteran News Corp reporter Robert 'Crash' Craddock, who argues cricket will be the "biggest loser" if the mega-money redevelopment of the Gabba does not go ahead.
AOC president Ian Chesterman backed up the opinion of International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president John Coates after suggesting plans should be abandoned to spend $2.7 billion redeveloping the Gabba before the Brisbane Olympic Games in 2032. Chesterman argued there were "more creative solutions" available after Coates had insisted the massive rebuild did not "stack up" financially.
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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," Chesterman 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." IOC vice-president Coates had earlier calls for the Gabba rebuild plans to be scrapped, arguing that the opening and closing ceremonies should be held at Suncorp Stadium, and athletics events held at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre.
Those comments came after Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner declared that the Gabba rebuild was "dead, buried and cremated". Opponents have called for the Gabba reconstruction to be axed because of escalating costs after the plan's initial $1 billion price tag blew out to almost three times that estimate.
Queensland Premier Steven Miles said in January that he hoped the independent process could create options that are better value for money but shared the concerns of many around the state about the level of expenses involving a five-year rebuild. The Liberal opposition party in Queensland had never supported a full Gabba knockdown, while the Greens have been calling for the rebuild to be scrapped completely.
Queensland Cricket would have hoped that a rebuild of the Gabba would see it compete against other grounds around the country and help secure some of the sport's biggest fixtures for the state. The MCG and SCG have long been established as traditional hosts of cricket's biggest fixtures in Australia, with the recently redeveloped Adelaide Oval and relatively new 60,000-seat Optus Stadium in Perth seemingly ahead of the Gabba in the pecking order.
Gabba blow spells bad news for cricket in QLD
Craddock admits he understands why such an expensive stadium rebuild is an unpopular sell to many Queenslanders. However, the veteran sports reporter says the Gabba was "counting on" the big-money redevelopment promised by the state government and is worried about what it means for cricket in the state.
"It sentences the Gabba to be the fifth best (cricket) venue in Australia for the next 20 years,' Craddock told SENQ Breakfast. "It's a real setback because (the Gabba) were counting on this and now it's gone.
"The redevelopment of the Gabba just became political poison, especially with a (state) election coming up this year. Both sides of politics were terrified given the public is more concerned about (the perception of) youth crime, cost of living and housing. Redeveloping a stadium was very much down the list."
The Brisbane Lions are the other major tenants of the Gabba and the AFL club said last year the massive rebuild had its support, despite meaning a temporary relocation to Brisbane Showgrounds for their home games. "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 last year. "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.
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