RNA Showgrounds to step up for Gabba redevelopment

Published Friday, 01 December, 2023 at 01:00 PM

Minister for Tourism, Innovation and Sport and Minister Assisting the Premier on Olympics and Paralympics Sport and Engagement
The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

RNA Showgrounds to step up for Gabba redevelopment

  • RNA Showgrounds’ Main Arena identified as the best alternative venue for the Brisbane Lions and cricket during The Gabba redevelopment.  
  • The Main Arena will be upgraded to create a temporary 20,000-seat facility.
  • The $137 million Main Arena upgrade will deliver a lasting community legacy for the city and the bush at the EKKA.  

An extensive South East Queensland-wide review has identified the RNA Showgrounds’ Main Arena as the best possible temporary venue during The Gabba rebuild.

The RNA Showgrounds Main Arena will be upgraded to deliver a cost-effective, 20,000-seat alternative home for the Brisbane Lions, cricket and major events.

A permanent seating bowl below a temporary grandstand at Machinery Hill is proposed for a $137 million Main Arena upgrade to also create a lasting community legacy for bringing city and country together at the EKKA.

The RNA Showgrounds’ inner-city location beside a Cross River Rail station and proximity to after-game entertainment precincts was assessed as the most appealing option for spectators and the community.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner’s support for the RNA’s Main Arena as a “no-brainer” for the relocation of The Gabba’s main tenants was a key consideration of the review.

The Lord Mayor has commented an upgrade of the RNA for cricket and the Lions “just makes sense” and ensures “the significant economic benefits of hosting big AFL and cricket games isn’t lost during this time”.

The Brisbane Lions’ contribution to Brisbane’s visitor economy is estimated at $80 million a year.

Input from Cricket Queensland, Cricket Australia, Brisbane Lions and the AFL has been critical to the investigation of temporary playing venues for Gabba hirers.

It will be an historic homecoming for cricket.

In 1928, the Main Arena was where Sir Donald Bradman AC made his international debut at Queensland’s first international test.

Up to $45.7 million has been committed by the Palaszczuk Government to the $137 million Main Arena fit out.

Brisbane City Council, the RNA and The Gabba’s primary tenants have been asked to share the remaining $91 million cost for the Main Arena upgrade to proceed.

Work on the RNA Main Arena must begin by next year to be ready for the 2025-26 cricket season and the 2026 start of The Gabba redevelopment. 

Main Arena seating will be scaled back to 12,000 seats after the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  

Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said:

“The Palaszczuk Government has worked closely with cricket and the AFL to find the best alternative venue for teams, spectators and the community while The Gabba is out of action.

“Upgrading the RNA Main Arena means keeping the big games in Brisbane and supporting the visitor economy while delivering an EKKA legacy for uniting city and country.

“I want to thank the Lord Mayor for his public backing of an upgrade to the historic Main Arena at the RNA Showgrounds to retain the economic benefits of sport and jobs here in Brisbane.

“Most Queenslanders acknowledge cricket and the AFL will need somewhere to play during The Gabba redevelopment.

“With many families facing cost-of-living pressures, the upgrade of RNA’s Main Arena is a logical solution, representing the best value-for-money for Queenslanders.”       

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