Rugby Union


Lions nightmare fuels groundswell for undercover stadium

A logistics nightmare surrounding the British and Irish Lions match has prompted fresh calls for an undercover stadium in Canberra to ensure the capital can attract blockbuster events.

The ARU pinpointed almost 12 months ago the Lions' trip to the capital to play the ACT Brumbies would be a problem for Canberra Stadium's capacity to handle increased crowds and media.

Organisers were faced with a long list of hurdles to accommodate an international fixture and Territory Venues general manager Neale Guthrie declared a new venue was a ''necessity''.

The ACT government has plans to build a rectangular stadium with a roof by 2020.

It would be able to host rugby union, league and soccer, as well as concerts and conventions.

It would cost $220 million, but it would have the capacity to earn revenue every day of the year as opposed to Canberra Stadium, which earns money only for Brumbies and Raiders games.


But it would be bigger than Canberra Stadium, which was built in 1977.

While Sydney and Brisbane got to host the Lions on a Saturday night, the Lions' trip to Canberra to play against Australia's best Super Rugby team - the Brumbies - was relegated to a Tuesday night.

The ARU had to hire the AIS Arena for post-match media commitments and rip out seats in the Meninga Stand and replace them with media tribunes to accommodate journalists.

Two temporary television suites had to be erected at the northern end of the ground and the limited undercover seating could have deterred fans from turning up in sub-zero temperatures.

Canberra Stadium added 10 food and drink outlets around the ground after complaints following the Anzac rugby league Test match in the capital in April.

''We've worked with the ARU in the past for Wallabies Test matches [in 2009 and 2010] and it's rolling out how we expected,'' Guthrie said.

''A covered venue … 15 years ago people would come to the footy even if it was cold. But these days you can stay at home in front of a big flat-screen television or go to a club or pub.

''The comparable bit for us is to [make the experience] drier and much warmer.''

The three major sporting codes which use rectangular venues - rugby, league and soccer - all have different requirements for setting up the stadium.

Guthrie said a new stadium had to be flexible ''to adapt to everything they need, and we lack a lot of the basic infrastructure''.

All hotel rooms in the capital were sold out this week, with 5000 rooms full.