Aerial photo of the Rockhampton Showgrounds.
Aerial photo of the Rockhampton Showgrounds.

Schwarten backs NRL stadium

MEMBER for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten says the state is committed to helping provide the city with a stadium if the CQ NRL Bid is successful.

Mr Schwarten said Premier Anna Bligh had already thrown her support behind the bid by signing the petition to bring NRL football to Central Queensland.

His comment comes after a southern media report, on the secret financial results of Queensland’s major stadiums, reveals some of the state’s biggest stadiums are proving a multi-million-dollar drain on state coffers.

But Mr Schwarten said the Bligh Government, fully aware of the costs involved in running a stadium, was committed to the path of supporting the NRL bid.

He said whether the government followed the same funding recipe, as for the Carrara Stadium upgrade on the Gold Coast, would be determined at a later date.

There the stadium is undergoing a $126 million redevelopment which will see its capacity rise to 25,000 and become the home of the Gold Coast’s AFL club.

Mr Schwarten said that stadium involved a mix of funding from different levels of government.

This funding arrangement is opposed to Skilled Park, also on the Gold Coast, where the state provided the bulk of the $160 million to build the 27,400 seat stadium.

This venue, owned by the government, houses the city’s rugby league and soccer clubs.

“These are all matters to be discussed at the appropriate time,” Mr Schwarten said.

CQ NRL Bid team chief executive officer Denis Keeffe said he would meet key stakeholders to discuss the bid and the path forward.

The Morning Bulletin has previously reported that for the NRL to award a licence to CQ it would need to see plans for a stadium with a capacity of at least 25,000.

One place where a stadium is going ahead in Central Queensland is Mackay.

Work has started on an $8.8 million stadium for our northern neighbours which will house 12,200 people.

There has been plenty of speculation about where a stadium would be built in Rockhampton with Bid chairman Geoff Murphy previously coy when asked about the possibility of the Showgrounds.

Other possible sites include the corner of Yeppoon and Norman roads, on the northern fringes.

Last May when Premier Bligh signed the petition she said any stadium funding would have to be considered in the budget context at the time.

Meanwhile, earlier this week southern media reported the Gabba had taken $60 million of taxpayer funds in the past decade, including a $30.2 million overall operating loss after pocketing $29.8 million in state government grants.

However, the news was brighter for venues relying on rugby league, with Dairy Farmers Stadium in Townsville posting a $16.95 million profit while accepting $27.3 million in state grants.

Skilled Park posted a $14.8 million profit after receiving $48.5 million in grants since it opened in 2008.

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