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Lions back new Olympic Stadium plan

Lions back new Olympic Stadium plan

The Brisbane Lions would be willing to stay at the Gabba in its current tired state provided a proposed new super stadium – which would eventually become their home ground – at inner-city Victoria Park for the 2032 Olympics gets the green light.

Findings of a review of the Brisbane Olympics venue infrastructure headed by former lord mayor Graham Quirk are set to be announced later this month.

It’s expected the plans for the Gabba to be redeveloped to become the main Olympic Stadium will be scrapped due to its $2.7bn cost.

Olympic powerbroker John Coates has called for the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies to be staged at Suncorp Stadium and the track and field events to be held at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre – where there is already a stadium and two 800m athletics tracks – in the southside suburb of Nathan.

However, Quirk and his review team are also considering a plan to construct a 90ha sporting and events venue precinct at Victoria Park with a 70,000-seat stadium and an indoor arena.

Should the Victoria Park proposal be approved, the Lions would play their home matches at the stadium.

“We think it looks fantastic,” Lions chief executive Greg Swann said on Tuesday.

“Obviously, the focus is the stadium for us, but the way that proposal flows, there’s education facilities, there’s hospitals, there’s green space … it just looks something that you’d like to think governments of all persuasions will (like).

“Those brand new stadiums bring people to the city. It’s great for tourism.

“This place (Brisbane) is growing. In 20 years’ time, we’ll have four million people here.

“I know it’s easy to say ‘why are you spending money on the stadium’?, but every big city has stadiums, hospitals, schools … there’s a place for everything.

“We think that proposal really suits us, as does the stadium, (for) us and cricket primarily and the Olympics, but I think from a legacy point of view the whole development proposal certainly looks like it should be considered by those in authority.”

However, should the Victoria Park proposal be rejected, and Coates’ idea of QSAC staging the athletics be preferred, the Lions want at least a “bit of an upgrade” to the Gabba, which has a capacity of about 37,000 for AFL matches.

“It’s a hard one in a way because one of the things that the boys talk about is that this place really rocks when it’s full,” Swann said.

“It’s a great atmosphere. It’s a great place to watch footy. The crowd is almost like a 24th man for us.

“We’d like it to get a bit of a lick of paint and a bit of an upgrade, but we don’t want it to lose its characteristics.

“It is a great facility for when you come here. All the sight lines are really good.”

However, Swann said the change rooms, particularly that of the visiting team, could do with some work, while improvements in venue accessibility and more seats to cater for the club’s growing membership and fan base would also be appreciated.

Swann said Friday night’s “Opening Round” battle at the Gabba between the Lions and Carlton was a sellout.

He also encouraged AFL officials to stick with the “Opening Round” concept – in which the competition’s teams from Queensland and NSW – the Lions, the Gold Coast Suns, the Sydney Swans and the GWS Giants – host the only four games played in the first week of the season.

“There’s a bit of pushback from Melbourne this week. They’ve just started to (say) ‘it doesn’t quite feel the same’, but for us here … we’ve had great publicity, we’ve had great exposure for the game and the code, so we think it’s a great idea,” Swann said.

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