Sport

ACT government puts new stadium on hold to pay for Mr Fluffy clean up

Plans for a new rectangular stadium with a roof in Civic have been put on hold for at least a decade as the ACT government prepares to foot the $300 million bill for the Mr Fluffy asbestos clean-up.

But Canberra Stadium will be left "as is" and require "rolling renovations" to keep it up to a minimum industry standard to be a suitable home for the ACT Brumbies and Canberra Raiders until at least 2025.

The plans for a proposed new stadium in Canberra.
The plans for a proposed new stadium in Canberra. 

Initial plans for the stadium were put in place to have it built by 2020.

However, the growing cost of the Mr Fluffy clean-up has put a state-of-the-art facility on the back burner with the City to the Lake project to be developed over 10-15 years, starting from next year.

The project was expected to be a joint public and private partnership, with private investors to foot the majority of the costs.

But the decision is a major blow to the Brumbies and Raiders, who have battled declining crowd numbers in recent years.

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Canberra's premier sporting teams had hoped a new undercover venue would help attract fans back to games with the roof to protect spectators from the capital's winter chill.

"The new city sports stadium remains part of the project but will now be delayed beyond 2020," ACT Economic Development Minister Andrew Barr said.

"The priority in the next five years remains with the development of the West Basin waterfront boardwalk, footpaths, cycle paths, recreation spaces and the new [Civic] pool.

"The new stadium cannot ben built until the new city pool is built and the timing of this is subject to future budget considerations and private investor interest.

"[Canberra Stadium] will continue as is for a few years longer than originally anticipated."

The government had started to seek private investors for the stadium, which would have a temporary capacity of up to 30,000 and be capable of hosting sports, functions and concerts. It was proposed the stadium would cost between $200-$300 million.

Canberra Stadium officials said in February that they would resist sinking more money into the venue until a decision was made on the new stadium in Civic.

Officials have spent $5 million on upgrades over the past five years to keep it up to standard, including the latest $2 million facelift to build new ticket booths, worth $1.4million, and re-lay the playing surface.

Deputy director-general of the economic development directorate Gary Rake wants to meet with the Raiders and Brumbies to discuss ways to help both teams move into the future. Both teams want public wifi to offer fans a better game-day interaction at the venue.

The Brumbies averaged just 12,000 fans to their homes games during the Super Rugby season and the Raiders, who won just four games in Canberra, saw crowd averages drop to just 9,608.

"We've got to provide good service for the Raiders and Brumbies and we want to meet with them to take advice," Rake said.

"The emphasis will be keeping corporate facilities up to scratch, there will be rolling renovations to help the stadium cope. There will be simple upgrades to keep amenities at a good standard and then some things to enhance the fan experience.

"There will be a delay on the [new] stadium, but we can't quantify how long that will be."