Rebuilding Canberra Stadium has been flagged as a priority since 2009, when now-Chief Minister Andrew Barr floated the idea of a new stadium in Civic.
The success of Canberra’s recent bid for an A-League men’s soccer team means we will soon be home to three major sporting teams – with both men’s and women’s teams – needing a rectangular field. The old stadium’s design and facilities are aged, it is disconnected from the rest of the city and it lacks the pre- and post-event amenities needed in the surrounding area to draw a crowd. Our local sporting teams and their fans have been left out in the cold at Canberra Stadium in Bruce for too long and feedback from the NRL, Rugby Australia and Football Australia consistently points to the insufficiency of our current infrastructure as the reason the National Capital is missing out on major sporting events like international matches.
Recent analysis found that of 37 high-profile music acts touring Australia, only four played in Canberra compared to 36 in Sydney and Melbourne, eight in Wollongong, six in Fremantle and five in Newcastle. While Canberra Theatre Centre’s new 2,000-seat theatre will be able to cater for smaller music acts, larger acts will continue to be dissuaded from including Canberra as a stop when on tour unless new infrastructure investments are made.
A state-of-the-art multi-use arena can be purpose built to solve these problems and give our National Capital the event-hosting capacity it deserves. The arena should be designed with a partial roof on the southern end to accommodate smaller concerts for 7,000 people up to major events with 25,000 fans in attendance. On-site hospitality venues should be built with an inside-outside design, making them operable at all times with commercial tenants paying full year-round rent to boost the viability of the venue. The Canterbury Multi-Use Arena currently under construction in Christchurch offers an example of how multiple infrastructure needs can be addressed by a single purpose-built facility.
Rough estimates from experts in the field suggest a construction cost of $400 million for a stadium, $320 million for a music arena or $500 million to combine the two venues into a multi-use arena.