On Tuesday 20 April the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed her Government’s plans to make the Gabba the main stadium if Queensland is selected to host the Olympics and Paralympics in 2032.

“Every games needs a home,” the Premier said.

“The Gabba has been home to our sport since 1895.”

“A home for the 2032 Olympic Paralympic Games could be its crowning glory.”

The Premier said a potential upgrade would increase capacity to around 50,000. The upgrade would also include a new pedestrian plaza linking the stadium to the Cross River Rail station, which is currently under construction.

Amy MacMahon State MP for South Brisbane and Councillor for the Gabba Ward Jonathan Sri raised concerns on Tuesday that local residents will suffer if the Gabba Stadium is confirmed as a major Olympics venue.

“We’re concerned that the impacts on an already squeezed neighbourhood haven’t been considered, such as skyrocketing rents, rising council rates, construction impacts, traffic, and disruption for East Brisbane State School,” Amy MacMahon said.

Cr Sri said that while the upgrade might catalyse some much-needed improvements to local infrastructure, the negative impacts would fall most heavily on low-income members of the local community.

“Without rent controls, a vacancy levy, and massive new investment in inner-city public housing, this is going to be a bloodbath for renters,” Cr Sri said.

Ms McMahon said the concept drawings circulated by the Government on Tuesday show the complete transformation of East Brisbane State School. 

“I’m worried that the construction and running of an Olympic Stadium right next door to the school will have a quite big detrimental effect on students and families,” Ms MacMahon said in a Facebook post.

Gabba Ward Councillor Jonathan Sri noted, also on Facebook, that it is early days in the process and he suggests we should not read too much into some of the rough visualisations provided by the Government at this stage. However, he said he does think that concerns about the East Brisbane state school raised by Ms MacMahon are valid.

Cr Sri also asked whether the Government should be spending money on the stadium or investing in better public transport for the city. 

Federal Member for Griffith Terri Butler said today that she is calling on the State Government to consult with the community on any proposed changes to the Gabba and its surrounds. Ms Butler said that before any changes are made to the Gabba, its surrounding buildings, and other facilities and public spaces, the local community must have their voice heard and considered.

“But I’ve been advised the project – and the whole Olympic bid – needs a federal funding commitment in order to proceed,” Ms Butler said.

“And, of course, Brisbane then needs to win Olympic bid, too.”

“If and when those things happen, the state government must consult widely about any proposed redevelopment.

“I want community consultation to cover all of the relevant issues, including the changes to the stadium and any related buildings. I also want consultation about the effects on heritage, the school, local businesses and community groups, and amenity for our community.

A spokesperson for the Premier told the Westender today:

“Of course we will consult with the local community. We released the concept on Tuesday after it was approved by the cabinet on Monday. This is so the public was informed of our proposal as soon as possible. But first things first: we need the Commonwealth’s guarantee of funding, and we need to be chosen to be host in 2032.”

The Westender approached local community groups Kurilpa Futures and West End Community Association for comment earlier in the week. Indications from both groups are that given it is still early days, they will have more to say when they have had time to consider the available information.

The Westender is keen to engage with readers over the coming weeks about when and how residents want governments and councils to consult with them, and we welcome your feedback.

Cover image provided