Introducing “Gabba Olympic Park”: A Game-Changing Concept for Brisbane’s Olympic Bid

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A ground-breaking proposal has emerged today labelled “Gabba Olympic Park”, in response to Brisbane 2032 Olympics planning that has dominated the headlines in Australia. This spectacular proposal seeks to integrate the iconic Gabba stadium and the Brisbane Live Entertainment Arena into a unified Olympics’ precinct. This ambitious initiative is designed to serve as the venue for both the swimming and athletics events during the upcoming games and achieve a lasting infrastructure for Brisbane post games and beyond.

Crafted by the esteemed local Brisbane architecture firm Hayes Anderson Lynch Architects (HAL), the proposal highlights construction of a state-of-the-art 17,000-seat Brisbane Live arena, poised to sit atop the Woolloongabba Cross River Rail station. This modern facility will be seamlessly linked to a revitalized Gabba stadium, boasting a seating capacity of 55,000. The entire precinct would be linked via elevated walking bridges connecting the precinct into the local framework, and also connecting the precinct into Southbank, which has long been a desire of the planning for the Woolloongabba precinct.

^The 'Gabba Olympic Park' Concept by Hayes Anderson Lynch Architects (HAL) - (Image: HAL)
^The ‘Gabba Olympic Park’ Concept by Hayes Anderson Lynch Architects (Image: Creative Threshold)

Architect Elizabeth Anderson from Hayes Anderson Lynch Architects commented,

“This proposal creates a legacy of a unique entertainment and sporting precinct, with a distinctive Queensland feel, located in the inner city and above a newly built train station. Brisbane needs a new entertainment centre and a new stadium, so it makes sense to combine both into one precinct, where the Federal Government pays 50%. Queensland gets them for half price!”

In line with the shared vision of Premier Stephen Miles and Opposition Leader David Crisafulli to circumvent the necessity for constructing a third stadium in Brisbane, this proposal envisions a unified Olympic hub, perfectly attuned to fostering the vibrancy and camaraderie emblematic of the Olympic ethos.

At the heart of the Gabba Olympic Park vision lies a cutting-edge athletics and swimming facility, meticulously designed to meet Brisbane’s burgeoning demand for modern sporting infrastructure. By amalgamating the Olympic precinct with existing plans for a new stadium and entertainment centre, the proposal adeptly addresses the city’s evolving needs. Notably, the Federal Government’s commitment to funding half of the estimated $5 billion construction costs underscores the viability and potential of this innovative undertaking.

Moreover, the strategic positioning of the precinct, bolstered by convenient access to a new train station, metro, and bus services, enhances its appeal as a cost-effective and logistically sound choice for hosting Olympic events. As a result, the proposed Gabba Olympic precinct emerges as a beacon of transformation for Brisbane, heralding a sustainable and dynamic future for both the city and its residents.

Key Features of Gabba Olympic Park:

  • Stadium Renovation: The Gabba will be modernised to accommodate 55,000 seats while preserving its historical significance.
  • Entertainment Centre: The Brisbane Live arena, perched above the Cross River Rail station, will offer panoramic city views and host many entertainment events.
  • Aquatic Theme: The design will integrate aquatic motifs, celebrating Queensland and Brisbane’s swimming legacy, potentially featuring Woolloongabba’s “whirling water” Aboriginal motif.
  • Elevated Plaza: A visually striking plaza between the stadium and entertainment centre will boast circular pedestrian walkways suspended over Gabba’s five ways, enhancing connectivity and aesthetics.
  • Cost-Efficiency: The combined precinct will save approximately $1 billion in construction costs through streamlined processes and demolition efficiencies.
  • Integration with Public Transport: Seamless connectivity ensures accessibility and reduces environmental impact.
  • Community Impact: The project prioritises community and environmental considerations, with plans for affordable housing, renewable energy initiatives, and conservation efforts.
^The Scheme Proposes an Elevated Plaza Concept, Connecting it to Southbank (Image: HAL)
^The Scheme Proposes an Elevated Plaza Concept, Connecting it to Southbank (Image: Creative Threshold)

The Gabba Olympic Park proposal presented by architects HAL appears to offer a compelling solution that addresses many of the challenges stemming from the complexities of Brisbane’s Olympic infrastructure strategy. Achieving comprehensive fulfillment of all requirements emerges as the foremost challenge confronting the government in orchestrating this event, particularly in light of the aspiration for the Olympics to leave a lasting legacy beyond its conclusion.

Inevitable: Gabba Reconstruction Looms Ahead Regardless

The current plan outlines a significant overhaul for the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre (QSAC) situated in Nathan, at the southern periphery of Brisbane. This transformation aims to cater to the Track and Field events during the games. The proposed upgrades to the stadium are estimated to entail a staggering $1.6 billion investment. Additionally, there is an unspecified financial commitment to enhance the transportation infrastructure in tandem with the stadium upgrades. Further, a reserve of $500 million is earmarked for maintaining the Gabba stadium leading up to the games, notwithstanding the imminent necessity for a complete reconstruction by that time. Following the Olympics, QSAC is slated to be downsized to a 14,000-seat capacity, effectively erasing any enduring stadium legacy. Consequently, attention will then pivot towards rebuilding the Gabba, which has surpassed its functional lifespan, incurring yet another substantial construction expense for Brisbane. Given the likelihood of escalating costs due to inflation, this decision presents a perplexing and financially burdensome scenario, potentially overshadowing the merits of hosting an Olympics in Brisbane.

The Gabba Stadium Brisbane
^The Gabba Stadium in Brisbane Will Need to be Rebuilt Regardless of the Olympics

Labour Cost-Effectiveness: Maximizing Efficiency in Construction

One of the foremost challenges confronting the construction industry at present is the scarcity of labour. The sector is grappling with an acute undersupply, with BuildSkills Australia highlighting the imperative need for an additional 90,000 workers to meet the growth targets outlined by the Federal Government. However, by synchronizing the construction of two major arenas concurrently, in conjunction with the nearing completion of the Cross River Rail project, a remarkable efficiency is attained for the construction endeavours associated with the Brisbane Olympics. This strategic alignment consolidates both the labour and material resources necessary for each stadium at a centralized location, presenting a significant advantage in terms of cost management and project timeline adherence.

Securing Legacy: Beyond the Immediate Impact

The envisioned legacy of establishing an entertainment precinct akin to “Melbourne Park” or “Sydney Olympic Park” holds far-reaching benefits for Brisbane compared to a discounted approach, spearheaded by Steven Miles, which entails investing billions into a derelict white elephant stadium destined for abandonment post-Olympics. Often overlooked in the creation of such world-class arenas is the substantial investment potential of the precinct itself. These stadiums are poised to generate significant revenues for Brisbane long after the conclusion of the Olympics. They are not merely transient structures but rather enduring assets that promise sustained economic gains. As evidenced by recent events like the Taylor Swift concert, which injected over $140 million into the local economy of twin cities Sydney and Melbourne, these international arenas have the capacity to attract lucrative business ventures over the long term. HAL’s ambitious proposal for an entertainment and sports precinct embodies a forward-thinking vision, aligning with public sentiments for a comprehensive and dynamic plan as Brisbane gears up for the 2032 Games.

Retention of Vital Green Space and Parklands

This proposal also safeguards crucial green spaces, parklands, and wildlife by consolidating construction activities within the original Gabba area. In contrast, the other two plans, situated away from the Gabba, encroach upon Brisbane’s green areas, diminishing the city’s environmental footprint—a cause it should champion moving forward.

The plan to host the games at QSAC has raised concerns about the destruction of vital Koala conservation areas to accommodate the rebuilt arena. Similarly, the Brisbane Live Arena’s proposal to encroach upon the Roma Street Gardens area is poised to significantly impact the inner city’s picturesque green zone. Moreover, the Victoria Park precinct idea threatens Adrian Schrinner’s longstanding “Central Park” plans, along with the implications for the Roma Street Parklands idea that it also incorporates.

^The Proposed Location Within The Roma Street Parklands for the Brisbane Live Arena (Image: BrisbaneDevelopment.com)
^The Proposed Location Within The Roma Street Parklands for the Brisbane Live Arena (Image: BrisbaneDevelopment.com)

In terms of green space preservation and natural conservation, this proposal emerges as the most environmentally conscious and efficient among the three options.

Hayes Anderson Lynch Architects stands as a distinguished architectural firm rooted in Brisbane, renowned for its inventive designs and commitment to sustainability. The firm’s hallmark lies in crafting spaces that seamlessly marry functionality with aesthetic appeal, earning acclaim for its impactful contributions to Queensland’s built environment and extending its influence beyond regional boundaries.

Note: The information presented in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal, financial, or professional advice. While we make every effort to fact-check and verify the information presented, we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Readers are encouraged to independently verify any information they find on our website and to consult with relevant professionals before making any decisions based on the information presented. The Australian Development Review does not own the rights to the information included within this article, and furthermore, there is no infringement intended from the included text and images within.


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4 thoughts on “Introducing “Gabba Olympic Park”: A Game-Changing Concept for Brisbane’s Olympic Bid

  1. Why not just demolish the aging gabba stadium when it reaches end of life and convert the space into actual park land. That, along with the cross river rail site would be a worthy outcome, and more deserved of the comparison to Central Park. This proposal just paywalls public land. You could even keep the gabba cricket field and use it for club and community cricket.

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