The cost of shifting the entire AIS campus from Canberra to Brisbane could soar beyond $500 million amid revelations of a bold pitch to relocate Australia's high performance sport base.
Sport Australia maintains the fate of the AIS rests with the federal government, after reports filtered out of Queensland saying AIS powerbrokers made a formal relocation approach to the Queensland government in 2018 with a proposal worth up to $50 million.
But it is understood that figure would fall well short of the costs required to move the facilities currently in place in Canberra to Queensland - so much so that $50 million is deemed way out of the ballpark.
Talks to relocate the AIS from its Bruce campus to a new headquarters and high performance centre at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre have been gathering steam after Brisbane was awarded hosting rights for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
But ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says shutting the doors of the Canberra campus for a complete relocation "would seem to be quite a leap beyond where we are now".
"The future of the Institute of Sport has been the subject of considerable debate, both within the elite sport community of Australia and within the federal government. This goes back to when I was Sports Minister so that was quite a while ago now," Barr said.
"No, I'm not surprised that there are a variety of different ideas floated about the future of the institute.
"You can see why, in light of the Brisbane successful bid for the 2032 Olympics, that there would be a view, certainly from that jurisdiction and potentially from others including at the national level, that there would be some benefit in having more of the elite sport preparation for those Olympics located in Queensland.
"Whether that requires the entirety of the AIS as we know it in Canberra to be moved would seem to be quite a leap beyond where we are now.
"There has been a trend for most of this century for particular sports or programs to be moved away from the centralised of the institute based in Canberra to state-based academies. There will be a variety of views on that as well.
"Let me confess that right now, even though I remember being involved in these debates extensively five to 10 years ago, it's not something I've given a lot of close attention to in the last month."
Sport Australia has canvassed several options for reinvigorating the 64 hectare campus, but federal government officials have so far refused to make a decision on the future of the AIS precinct in Canberra.
The ACT government had hoped Brisbane's successful Olympic bid would accelerate plans for the future of the site but sports and officials are still stuck in a bureaucratic limbo.
Former Sport Australia chair John Wylie said the institute should be relocated to Queensland in preparation for Brisbane to host the 2032 Olympic Games.
Ex-AIS director Matt Favier added fuel to the debate when he said the Canberra campus is no longer world-class and there's a compelling argument for it to shift to south-east Queensland, while another former director Robert de Castella can see merit in either city hosting the institute.
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