Community groups with local Federal, State and Local Government Reps rallied today in Woolloongabba against the State Government’s designs on The Gabba Stadium.

On the eve of a community rally against its rebuild, Steven Miles, the Minister for Planning announced yesterday that the Gabba Stadium Project has reached a pivotal milestone with the completion of the Project Validation Report (PVR).

The the Gabba redevelopment, estimated at $2.7 billion, would:

  • increase the stadium capacity from 42000 to 50000;
  • update amenities; and
  • build active transport corridors to Southbank and the central business district (CBD).

The plan involves the closure and repurposing of the heritage-listed East Brisbane State School, and transforming Raymond Park in Kangaroo Point into a temporary warm-up track for athletes during the Games. Post-event, the intention is to restore Raymond Park to its original park setting.

artist render of the new Gabba Stadium
Artist render of the new Gabba Stadium, Queensland Government.

This Gabba rebuild sits within the Woolloongabba Priority Development Area (PDA), which will see the rebuilt Gabba Stadium, Cross River Rail, and the Brisbane Metro connect to South Bank, the Brisbane CBD and the new Brisbane Arena at Roma St via a walkable spine, an active travel corridor to South Bank plus Brisbane City Council’s new green bridge.

Minister Miles said the design and construction procurement phase is now set to commence, on what he says is one of the most significant urban renewal projects since South Bank.

Collage of photos from Gabba Stadium protest

But today, with a strong media contingent in tow, the East Brisbane School community and Greens Party representatives voiced their objections to the $2.7 billion rebuild at a Rally held in Woolloongabba Place Park.

With a Welcome to Country from Aunty Dawn Daylight, the rally heard from Greens representatives, East Brisbane State School parents, and Friends of Raymond Park, before marching around the stadium and passing the school for a photo opportunity.

Amy MacMahon, the member for South Brisbane, said today the State Government paid the multinational design firm Populous $1.4 million for the 14-page Project Validation Report “that told us nothing that we didn’t already know.”

“That report made clear that costs are likely to blow out further and demonstrates the contempt that Queensland Labor has for everyday people,” MacMahon said.

Yesterday, the Deputy Premier said the Government’s plans are about more than a stadium upgrade. 

“This is about anchoring an urban renewal project that will see Woolloongabba transformed like South Bank was transformed for Expo 88.

“We could see another 880 or more apartments delivered in the precinct alone, as well as retail and dining.”

Protest march against The Gabba Stadium rebuild

Ms MacMahon said the neighbourhood is growing quickly, and the Government’s plans are not keeping up with infrastructure needs.

“We won’t have a school. We won’t have a local park. We won’t have any of the public infrastructure needed to deal with that kind of population. And those properties aren’t going to be affordable. It’s still not going to be affordable for nurses, doctors, everyday people to live in these apartments.”

“We know that Olympics infrastructure is going to divert resources and staff away from projects that we actually need, like public housing and public transport. The government is pressing ahead with a project that nobody wants…This is going to come at the expense of schools, of hospitals, of public transport and things that Queenslanders actually need. In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis Queenslanders are appalled that this amount of money is being put into a single stadium.”

Local Gabba Ward Councillor Trina Massey said small businesses in the precinct have told her they are worried about the downturn in their future business during the rebuild.

Federal MP for Griffith, Max Chandler-Mather, told the rally he has never seen a government take a position that is so deeply unpopular.

“I think we should take encouragement from the fact that there are millions of Queenslanders on our side.”

“I think everyone here would agree that if we had $2.7 billion, we would spend it on housing, schools, hospitals, infrastructure,” Chandler-Mather said.

Senator for Queensland, Gladstone-based Penny Allman-Payne, said the funding for the rebuild, is effectively a wealth transfer from the regions to the southeast corner, “and people in regional Queensland are outraged.”

“Earlier this year I sat on the Senate inquiry into the Olympics here in Brisbane and I questioned a representative from the IOC. Under questioning they admitted that it is absolutely unnecessary to knock down the Gabba.”

Senator Allman-Payne said the Senate Committee made recommendations in its interim report for the Queensland Government to reconsider the Gabba rebuild[i] and said it won’t be surprising if the committee’s final report finds that the stadium rebuild is not necessary.

President of the East Brisbane State School P&C, Austin Gibbs, told the rally that those opposing the development do not hate sport, or the Olympics, or any particular political party.

“We are here because we love this neighbourhood – it’s special and we want to fight for it. And our message to people is look beyond the pretty pictures. We see these artists sketches of a stadium and all that looks pretty. We need to look beyond that and say, “Okay, that looks pretty, but what is the impact on real people?” “

“Every Queenslander is paying for this. We’re losing a school. It’s the only school in the area. Its heritage listed. It’s beautiful,” Mr Gibbs said.

“We’ve got cricket as an Olympic sport and we’re tearing down our world-famous cricket stadium for a temporary athletics track.”

In response to detractors who she said want to make opposition to the Gabba rebuild about party politics, Melissa Occhipinti of Friends of Raymond Park and Rethink the Gabba said:

“Our elected representatives are doing exactly what we would expect from any local representatives that are elected by our community. And that is to represent us and represent the community and the community’s thoughts.”

The Greens Mayoral Candidate, Jonathan Sriranganathan, has long argued against the Gabba Stadium rebuild. In October, Labor’s Lord Mayoral candidate Tracey Price told the ABC that she is still deciding where she stands on the state Labor government’s redevelopment of the Gabba for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Yesterday, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner stood with Mr Miles at a press conference announcing the Gabba redevelopment.

More information on the Gabba Stadium PVR can be found here.

Procurement processes for the Gabba stadium rebuild commence with industry briefings underway in December. The design process will occur in 2024.

The State Government is inviting the community to participate in a survey about the PDA and give feedback on the idea of a new name, including alternatives on Economic Development Queensland’s community consultation page.


[1] “The committee recommends the Australian Government works with the Queensland Government, affected communities and Olympics Games organising bodies to urgently review the decision to host Athletics events at the Gabba stadium and the associated plans to demolish the East Brisbane State School and temporarily remove community access to Raymond Park. The review should consider the feasibility of alternative options, including using existing infrastructure, and work to find a solution that is acceptable to these communities.” Chapter 4 – Brisbane 2032 Summer Olympics: The Gabba and Redland Whitewater Centre, Senate Committee, Australia’s preparedness to host Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic Games

All images by Jan Bowman

For more on the Olympics see HERE.