The Gabba is set to become the centrepiece of the 2032 Olympic Games, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and athletics, if Brisbane’s bid to be the host city is successful.
South-east Queensland is on track to host the 2032 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in the wake of the International Olympic Committee naming Brisbane its preferred bid in February.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the stadium would likely be upgraded to increase capacity from 42,000 to 50,000 spectators.
“Every games needs a home,” she said.
“The Gabba has been home to our sport since 1895.
“A home for the 2032 Olympic Games could be its crowning glory.”
Ms Palaszczuk told ABC News Breakfast the Gabba would be “completely rebuilt and raised up and it’s going to be sensational”.
“We’ve had some of the best Olympic architects in the world populace that have done this design and it is phenomenal,” she said.
“It is so exciting. Yesterday, cabinet could not believe what they were seeing. They ticked it off, they endorsed it and today we’re making sure the rest of the nation gets to see it.”
The upgrade would include a new pedestrian plaza linking the stadium to Woolloongabba’s new Cross River Rail station, which is under construction.
Ms Palaszczuk said the plaza could transform the area into a games hub and could be used to host concerts and medal presentations.
“I can see the river lined with people watching big screens, all taking part in the fun and excitement of the games,” she said.
“There’s South Bank leading to West End, which is connected to Roma Street via the Kurilpa Bridge, with a new bridge under construction for the new Queen’s Wharf development.
“There are CityCats offering even more options for transport.
“All of this is infrastructure we already have.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the upgrades would need the continued support of all levels of government, including the Commonwealth.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the announcement was “very consistent with what the IOC has been saying, and also consistent with what we’ve been saying, which is use existing venues”.
He told ABC Radio Brisbane the Gabba had needed an upgrade for quite some time.
“The Olympics is the project that will bring that to light,” he said.
“Not many cities have a stadium so close to the CBD and so accessible with multiple forms of transport – there’s so many boxes that it ticks.”
Cr Schrinner said a 50,000-seat capacity was a “good sweet spot” in contrast to Sydney’s 2000 Olympics Stadium, which “they very rarely have been able to fill up ever since”.
“Getting these improved facilities as part of the Olympics is the outcome we all want to see. It’s things that we will need on an ongoing basis. That’s why we’re not building a 100,000-seat stadium.”
The Gabba would join 19 existing earmarked venues for the Games. They include sites in Cairns, Townsville, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
A final decision on Brisbane’s bid is expected to be made as early as July, ahead of Tokyo 2021.
If Brisbane is selected, it will be the first Olympics Games to be hosted in Oceania in more than 30 years.
Queensland’s 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Taskforce found the Games could create about 130,000 direct jobs and tens of thousands of indirect jobs, particularly in tourism.
In its value proposition assessment, it estimated the economic benefits of the Games for the state at about $7.4 billion, with “social and community benefits” lasting for potentially two decades.