The University of Canberra is planning a possible 10,000-seat indoor venue to fill the gaping void left by the AIS Arena which could reignite the ACT's sports and entertainment sector.
The Canberra Times can reveal a "UC Arena" with a capacity between 7000 and 10,000 forms part of the university's sport strategy, which will be launched at its Bruce campus on Friday.
University of Canberra vice-chancellor Paddy Nixon has opened talks with the ACT and federal governments about support for the "compelling proposition". The venue would become home to the WNBL's Canberra Capitals and concerts.
The Capitals have been left stranded without a venue to host marquee games after the AIS Arena's doors were slammed shut last year with no re-opening date in sight.
It left Canberra without a suitable indoor venue to host concerts and sporting fixtures like WNBL finals and Super Netball matches.
Nixon says the university planned for a six to seven court indoor facility which could be configured for events with a capacity of about 4000, but the closure of the arena forced a major rethink.
"There's an urgency about this," Nixon said while conceding it would be premature to put a timeline on the building.
"The AIS is closed, and there isn't any other comparable facility in the ACT region. This is something that has to be high on the priority list, and we're going to push for that.
"We're looking at a UC Arena which is significantly bigger, nine or more courts, which would have a capacity somewhere between 7000 and 10,000. We'd have a whole range of additional facilities. That's the exciting infrastructure piece.
"I would hope over the next 12 months we would get some very clear signals on whether we would get support for it.
"At this point in time, the Caps have no place to play in Canberra, they don't have a home for their games, which from my perspective is a bit of a travesty. It's one that couldn't have been planned for.
"There's actually a need within the city and the region to have a high-quality facility that can attract tournaments, that can support multiple indoor sports, and a venue for performing artists to come.
"We've had conversations with the ACT government, we are beginning conversations now in the early stages with the federal government, to make the case that this is something the Canberra region, and certainly the southeast of NSW, really needs."
The sport strategy is aimed at helping the University of Canberra, which houses the Capitals, Super Rugby's ACT Brumbies, and W-League club Canberra United, become Australia's leading university for women in sport, sport integrity and a top three sports science university.
But the potential for a UC Arena looms as the crown jewel.
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