The news Chief Minister Andrew Barr wants the Commonwealth to write off the territory's remaining debt in order to fund the long-awaited city stadium project is no surprise, given the state of the ACT government's books.
Despite years of Canberra's local government heading to the hill with the begging bowl, Mr Barr has essentially ruled out funding the stadium project, which could cost nearer the $400 million mark, unless the federal government coughs up.
A former ACT Sports Minister, the stadium has long been part of Mr Barr's vision for the city, but in a relationship with a Coalition that turned difficult long ago, the fact it is such a large sum, and Canberra's high Labor vote, makes it highly unlikely the Commonwealth is going to forgo the cash to help build a sports stadium.
Senator Zed Seselja says he stands at the ready to talk with Mr Barr over the plans - likely in full confidence his senior colleague, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, would not bother the expenditure review committee with such a proposal.
The reality is, just as with the much-vaunted glossy plans for Canberra's new convention centre, a stadium in the city is still all but a pipe dream, particularly if the government is more keen on the second stage of light rail, which will no doubt take precedence again.
While Mr Barr, an avid Hawks fan, has been able to visit some 25 different stadiums around the world in search of the perfect Canberra stadium, basic infrastructure issues such as overcoming Parkes Way and the water treatment pond remain.
And with the territory's books heading into at least two consecutive deficits in the next two years, Mr Barr would likely prefer to head back towards a budget balance then go another $400 million into the red without the Commonwealth's help.
Despite these realities, the Chief Minister is still looking into potential designs and talking to architects of the recently-finished $350 million Parramatta stadium.
A skeptic may well suggest Mr Barr sees dreaming of a grand stadium for the city of his design more important than say, addressing the annual backlog of basic capital works - valued at $112 million this budget - such as road resurfacing and addressing critical problems at Canberra Hospital, as a low-order, or 'non-core' priority.
Canberra is in dire need of both, but the financial reality is one that Mr Barr as Treasurer cannot escape.
Before the Chief Minister visits yet more stadiums and seeks designs, he should be careful not to repeat past failings such as that found on the now-defunct new convention centre proposal.
After getting top-notch architects to draw up beautiful renders of what would have been a jewel in the city's crown, that project has been put on the back-burner; there is an increasing risk the new stadium - whether in the city or Bruce - may face a similar fate.
Instead of either blaming the federal government for his budget woes, or seeking a write-off of a debt he has promised to re-pay - whatever the unusual circumstances outside his control - Mr Barr must be up front with voters.
The territory government needs to be clear about specific time-frames of when a stadium can be delivered, if it will actually happen at all.
Notwithstanding the fluid and drawn out negotiations over the West Basin lakefront, the AIS land and land for diplomatic missions; when exactly will deals be sealed - or abandoned if common ground cannot be reached?