A 'flagship' stadium in Canberra? Consortium wants to build it

A multi-purpose stadium consortium is keen to make Canberra its "flagship site" for an indoor-outdoor venue, adamant the versatile model can generate enough revenue in the first 10 years to cover its costs.

StadiArena Australia licensee Richie Williams is keen to work with the ACT government to build a state of the art 30,000-seat stadium in Civic which can be sectioned off as a smaller 7000-seat indoor arena.

The government is still weighing up options to reinvigorate the capital's stadium landscape after Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it could scrap plans for a $350 million venue in the city.

The government is pushing ahead with negotiations on a naming-rights sponsorship deal for Canberra Stadium despite ongoing uncertainty surrounding the ageing venue's future.

The government is keen to buy the Canberra Stadium site at Bruce to either redevelop the rectangular ground or bulldozing it and selling the land to a developer to fund a Civic overhaul.

The Australian Sports Commission's asset review and national sports plan could be delayed until the halfway through 2018, putting Canberra Stadium in a holding pattern.

GIO Insurance's naming-rights partnership with the government ends this year, but the organisation has an option to extend the deal.

StadiArena designs for a new stadium in Canberra.

StadiArena designs for a new stadium in Canberra. Photo: Supplied

Mr Barr used a Legislative Assembly inquiry into a new convention centre proposal to flag the prospect of building a small indoor arena on the site of the Civic Pool instead of a new stadium.

He also said the government was willing to investigate an indoor-outdoor stadium to meet requirements for a range of events.

StadiArena says an indoor-outdoor arena could generate revenue within three to five years because if its ability to transform from a rectangular stadium into an indoor sport, concert and exhibition area.

"It would be massive for Canberra. We see an opportunity to make Canberra that flagship site and the first in Australia for a lifestyle precinct," Mr Williams said.

"The costs of building a stadium are rather exorbitant for the number of times it is used. But if you put the arena in it as well, you can generate revenue to cover the cost.

"If there is an arena as well, you can have conferences, expos, concerts, indoor sports as well as outdoor events for the [ACT] Brumbies, Canberra Raiders and A-League soccer.

"We've got models where you can pay off a stadium within six or seven years. It depends on location, but Canberra is an ideal spot for us.

"The real benefit is driving an economic hub around the stadium-arena, building an internal economy in the CBD."

StadiArena recently build a indoor-outdoor stadium in India and has interest from Asia and Scotland. The company says its design can be transferred from a stadium to an arena in six minutes.

Relocating the Civic Pool, the orientation of a rectangular stadium and the type of grass used for a playing surface are still the major stumbling blocks for a venue in the city.

"Over the course of the public debate on the stadium issue, there have been proposals put forward that combine a stadium and arena but sealing off one end and creating a 7500-seat facility indoors," Mr Barr said.

"It would still allow you to have an outdoor playing field. There are models in the United Kingdom that operate in that way."

The ANU is building a pool, which could open the door for a partnership with the government.

But the government is keen to build a rectangular stadium with a roof as an east-west orientation while the Brumbies and Raiders have a preference for the field to run north-south, which would require major reconstruction of Parkes Way.

The Brumbies and Raiders still play at Canberra Stadium.

The Brumbies and Raiders still play at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The government has agreed to pay $350,000 per year to rent Canberra Stadium until the end of 2024.

However, that arrangement could change if the ACT can strike a deal with the sports commission, a federal government agency, to buy the stadium.

The federal government owns the Canberra Stadium land and would also need to agree to a deal.

"[Canberra Stadium] is well past its time," Mr Williams said.

"It doesn't service the core population of Canberra at its current location. Having it in Civic would create an accelerator effect.

"It's got potential for an enormous return on investment. Canberra was my ideal spot to have a red-hot crack at this form of stadium purely because it's the centre of attention of Australia."

StadiArena designs for a new stadium in Canberra.

StadiArena designs for a new stadium in Canberra. Photo: Supplied

The story A 'flagship' stadium in Canberra? Consortium wants to build it first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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