EXCITING PLANS: $120m Browne Park upgrade on the table
FOR too long now Rockhampton has suffered without a decent stadium to lure the top level sporting teams and marquee events.
The buoyant mood among the crowd that gathered at the Rockhampton Leagues Club public meeting last night to discuss the construction of a new Browne Park Stadium suggested that the people of CQ were finally ready to seize the initiative.
The meeting, which was hosted by The Morning Bulletin's editor Frazer Pearce, was an opportunity for the gathered panel, comprising members of the Browne Park management committee, Rockhampton Regional Mayor Margaret Strelow and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke, to talk with members of the community.
More than 30 people capitalised on the valuable opportunity to hear about plans for the stadium and for local sports stakeholders and residents to express any concerns they might have regarding the project.
A member of the Management of Browne Park Incorporated, Rob Crow, recounted some of the history behind Browne Park and the importance of continuing the proud tradition of a sporting ground which was regarded by many in the community as the spiritual home of rugby league in Central Queensland - much like Lang Park (now Suncorp Stadium) was for Brisbane.
He said they were looking at building a stadium that held 10,000-12,000 people and stadiums of this size could be conservatively estimated to cost around $100-120 million.
Mr Crow said it was time for Rockhampton to have a quality stadium, not just to host NRL games and big ticket concerts but also to host other sporting codes including rugby's Queensland Reds and soccer's Brisbane Roar.
An important cost consideration was the ongoing maintenance which Mr Crow estimated would come in at one per cent or $1-1.2 million a year - a third of which would be covered by the rent paid by the Rockhampton Leagues Club.
The chairman of the Management of Browne Park Trust, Paul Hoolihan, said there wasn't much parking at the stadium, but successful stadiums like Suncorp Stadium had minimum parking and relied heavily on public transport.
Mr Hoolihan said they had been in contact with local shopping centres who were more than willing to allow people to park there and catch buses to and from the games.
He said there were excellent economic benefits for the shopping centres from this arrangement and also for the neighbouring CBD businesses and hotels within walking distance of Browne Park.
One of the residents living near Browne Park said while she didn't mind the crowd noise from local sporting events, there needed to be consideration of noise levels for people living nearby to avoid the too loud and incessant announcer banter which she said tainted the recent Nitro Circus event.
Cr Strelow acknowledged that the council would do its best to mitigate a repeat of these circumstances.
Another gentleman mentioned the need to make modifications to Murray St, possibly making it a one-way street and cutting down some of the trees.
Cr Strelow said council would have to follow due processes to see if these suggestions were feasible.
The most encouraging news emanated from Mr O'Rourke, who had made a $75,000 scoping study for the Browne Park Stadium one of his election promises last year.
He pledged to approach his Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, Kate Jones, to seek additional funding to expedite the feasibility study.
"So that we can have a real dollar value sorted out so that we can start talking to state, federal and local government about getting this project funded and getting it off the ground," Mr O'Rourke said.
Although he couldn't specify how much more money would be required, he was determined to secure enough to hire a consultant to get cracking on a feasibility study within the next month.
"I really do want to make sure that we do consult the community, it's so important to bring them along on this journey," he said.