From left, Andrew Fagan, David Pocock, Andrew Barr, Stephen Moore, and Stephen Parker in front of the proposed new Brumbies HQ site at the University of Canberra. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The ACT Brumbies hope their move to the University of Canberra will give them a competitive advantage over their Super Rugby rivals as they attempt to end a 10-year absence from the finals.
As revealed in The Canberra Times, the Brumbies, university and ACT government have committed to a $15 million sports hub in Bruce that will be built in the next 18 months.
The government's $5 million is for community sport, with ACT Sport ready to move its offices from Hackett to the university campus.
A host of smaller sports will follow the Brumbies, and Canberra United and the Canberra Capitals are also set to benefit from the new multipurpose facility, with the university already in talks with a variety of organisations.
The new building has the ability to be extended in two different directions as more sports move into the facility, which will include a high-tech gym, sports science areas and a new rugby training field.
The Brumbies will be the first to move at the end of next year, with architects to begin on a design in the next two months.
''We want the best rugby program in Australia and by doing this we can provide facilities and programs that can't be matched my our competitors,'' Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan said. ''It's been a good 12 months … it's about trying to be the best in an elite, high-performance industry as well as promoting rugby and we can do that with an announcement like this.''
The university attracted criticism earlier this year for its major sponsorship deal with the Brumbies while it cut back on some courses. However, it has renewed its naming-rights deal for at least one more season.
Vice-chancellor Professor Stephen Parker was adamant linking with the Brumbies would make the Bruce campus the leading sport university in Australia.
''UC's a big community, people will have different views,'' he said. ''But my role is to lead the institution and we have to have ambition, we have to make our mark and we can do that. Our sports studies degrees are attractive already … and part of the chemistry of this arrangement is we can attract more people from outside Canberra.''
The government's contribution is dependent on Labor being re-elected on Saturday and is based around developing community sports.
ACT Sport boss Mark Cartwright was excited at the prospect of a sporting hub.
''We are conscious this is an election commitment and the detail needs to be looked at, but it's certainly a positive show and the potential is significant,'' he said.
''The University of Canberra is keen to establish both high performance and community as their identity and I think it's only natural they'll look to accommodate a wide range of stakeholders.''
It will be a major upgrade for the Brumbies. In their current changing rooms 35 players share three showers, and the club is waiting for its development application for its Griffith headquarters to be approved so it can build an apartment complex.
''Having a world-class facility does help,'' star recruit David Pocock said. ''The [Western] Force got a new facility last year and it changed the place and the attitude.''