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Cairns advances plans for $66 million ‘rectangular’ sports stadium

Cairns advances plans for $66 million ‘rectangular’ sports stadium
November 30, 2011

Cairns Regional Council is set to enter the next phase of its investigations into the feasibility of a $66 million rectangular stadium.

Last week councillors voted to adopt an initial needs study, undertaken by Coffey Sport and Leisure (formerly Coffey Commercial Advisory), that confirmed there was sufficient demand for an asset with a 20,000 audience capacity, including 10,000 seats.

Explaining the move, acting Mayor Margaret Cochrane stated "we know we have a strong sporting culture in Cairns and we want to be able to provide quality sporting infrastructure and access to high-level competition.

"However, we need to ensure we have covered all our bases before committing to any major project, and that is why these studies are so important in determining the actual and projected needs of the community."

The next stage of the study will include identifying suitable locations, completion of a concept plan and a preliminary risk analysis, and will cost almost $150,000 to complete.

The Council's Community, Sport and Cultural Services General Manager Ian Lowth said a preliminary construction cost had been estimated at $66.4 million, based on an unidentified site "with many variables yet to be determined.

"This gives us a starting point to look at, but the next stage of the study will start to firm up some of the variables and give a more accurate insight into the potential costs and liabilities.

"Much of the public feedback received in response to the draft needs study was generally in favour of improved sporting infrastructure, though there were differing opinions about how this should be achieved."

Written responses on the draft were received from 15 organisations and 82 community members.

Cairns Regional Council estimates that 576 jobs will be created during construction plus an additional 132 jobs for the operation of the stadium.

The Stage 1 report indicates that the stadium is likely to run at a substantial loss, stating "the financial assessment undertaken based on the anticipated content level and attendance levels indicates that the demand is not sufficient to allow the venue to be sustainable in its own right when accounting for required match return to clubs, maintenance, sinking fund and depreciation.

"The estimated annual deficit for the stadium is $1.9 million, inclusive of sinking fund and depreciation, a situation not uncommon with other stadiums."

Stage 2 of the study, which is also being undertaken by Coffey Sport and Leisure, is expected to be completed in April 2012.

There has been considerable interest in developing a 'rectangular' sports stadium in the Cairns region for some time, using Gosford's Central Coast Stadium as a model. In response to this strong support, Council opted to undertake robust analysis to determine if the demand or need is justified in the context of higher level sports and event opportunities.

The recent draft needs study looked into possible events, level of demand, preferences and options, potential economic impact, as well as likely costs. The report provided Cairns Regional Council with guidance as to the most appropriate options for progressing the study.

Click here to view the Stadium Study.

Central Coast Stadium image courtesy of Scott Carver.


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