If it had not been for a change of government at last year's federal election, the official opening of the ACT Brumbies' new home on the University of Canberra campus would also have been the turning of the first sod for a proposed $25 million multisport complex on Thursday as well.
But UC vice-chancellor Stephen Parker was confident the opening would attract enough interest for stage two of the sporting commons project to go ahead.
Kevin Rudd's Labor government pledged $10 million to the complex, but that funding was cut by Tony Abbott's government.
The proposed stadium includes nine courts, which could be used for basketball, netball, futsal and volleyball, including one show court with roll-in, roll-out seating for 3000 people.
There are also plans to have two squash courts with removable glass walls suitable for professional tournaments.
It would enable UC to continue to lure a range of top-level sports to its campus, like W-League club Canberra United.
The Brumbies now live there, while UC has taken over the WNBL licence for the Canberra Capitals.
ACT acting Chief Minister Andrew Barr said stage two of the UC sporting commons would have begun if the $10 million had been honoured.
"The university will take stock now and look at what the feasible way forward is in terms of its own capital investment program and the capacity to attract federal grants, noting that this project had received another $10 million, which was ripped out by the Abbott government," Mr Barr said.
"That was very disappointing and we would be turning sods on stage two now if that money hadn't been taken away.
"It means it's got through one cost-benefit analysis, it's won funding before, so in a future round of funding ... the project still has great merit."
Professor Parker said they would look at other ways to attract funding and he thought the opening of the Brumbies' home, which includes a public gymnasium and a climate chamber, would highlight what was possible if several parties worked together.
He felt clever rostering of the facility would open it up to be used by a range of stakeholders.
The vice-chancellor has used sponsorship to raise the profile of the university – it has sponsored the Brumbies for the past three seasons, and it was also a sponsor of Big Bash League team Sydney Thunder last season.
He said the arrangement with the Thunder was unlikely to continue this summer, while a new deal with the Brumbies was currently under discussion.
"When people see this facility they know we're not talking about pipe dreams here, we're talking about something that's physical, real and everyone's getting benefit from it and they can see the logic of people gathering together and sharing facilities," Professor Parker said.
"I think we'll get a consortium together. If club sports who have got a little bit of money and if they put it into this kind of facility it will go a lot further than if they try and build a small, stand-alone facility.
"So that's the next stage – lots of talking and negotiating, applying for grants and I imagine we're going to have to piece this together bit by bit."
His counterpart at the University of Pretoria, Cheryl de la Rey, and Pretoria Bulls chief executive Barend van Graan both flew over for the opening of the Brumbies' headquarters, which was conceived about six years ago in a conversation with Brumbies chairman Sean Hammond and then chief executive Andrew Fagan, as well as the Canberra Capitals.