Calls to get Civic Stadium back on track

Canberra might have grown up, but it risks falling behind the rest of Australia without a new Civic Stadium.

The stunning opening of the rebuilt Parramatta Stadium on Monday highlighted the boost a new facility can create.

The new Parramatta Stadium has been an instant hit. Canberra risks falling behind if it doesn't get its own. Photo: James Brickwood

The new Parramatta Stadium has been an instant hit. Canberra risks falling behind if it doesn't get its own. Photo: James Brickwood

Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane have all experienced similar lifts in recent years, with Townsville soon to follow suit.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said, "This is the moment that Canberra grows up," when the light rail took its first passengers last week.

Both the Canberra Raiders and the ACT Brumbies believe getting a new Civic Stadium back on the agenda would further bolster the city centre.

Almost 30,000 fans packed in for the opening of Parramatta Stadium for the NRL game between the Eels and Wests Tigers on Monday.

The opening of similar modern stadiums around the country have helped bolster not only the sporting teams that use them, but the local economies as well.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner said it would benefit both rugby codes, but also a potential A-League team and help attract big concerts to Canberra.

"You saw the other night how fantastic it is with the new stadium," he said.

"I'd love to see the same thing happen to the centre of Canberra. I know the ACT government would like to see that too.

"I did see the Chief Minister say Canberra's really grown up with the light rail and I agree.

"To have a big stadium at the end of the light rail would really keep us in pace with the other major cities.

"Perth's just done it. Adelaide's done it ... and if we don't we fall behind your Parramatta's, or even cities like Townsville."

Canberra Stadium's playing surface is still one of the best in the country, but the stands and utilities are past their used-by date. Photo: Karleen Minney

Canberra Stadium's playing surface is still one of the best in the country, but the stands and utilities are past their used-by date. Photo: Karleen Minney

A new stadium was on the ACT government's agenda until the Mr Fluffy asbestos saga struck.

Since then it's been in a holding pattern as the government tries to find the funding.

They're waiting to see what the federal government will do with several AIS assets, which they should know after the upcoming election.

Barr's keen to buy Canberra Stadium, which could allow him to develop the site to fund a new arena in Civic.

He visited the Parramatta Stadium during construction and will see it first hand when he attends the Brumbies-NSW Waratahs game in June.

Brumbies chief executive Phil Thomson said without a new stadium Canberra could miss out on events like the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025 and the World Cup in 2027.

"The economic impact on the city would be great. A modern stadium would really give the city some heart and soul," Thomson said.

"It would continue to develop the national capital, befitting of a major city within Australia.

"There's every chance we could miss out on getting big events to Canberra and that would be really sad for the people of Canberra and the region."

NRL ROUND SEVEN

Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, 2pm.

SUPER RUGBY ROUND 11

Sunday: ACT Brumbies v Argentina Jaguares at Buenos Aires, 7.40am.