The proposed sports and entertainment precinct around Huish Drive.
The proposed sports and entertainment precinct around Huish Drive. Michelle Gately

Time to work together on two stadiums, sporting precinct

THERE shouldn't be any debate between Rockhampton's two stadium proposals.

In fact, businessman Grant Cassidy believes the relevant supporters should be working together to create a broader master plan which can be rolled out as a staged development.

Mr Cassidy spoke to The Morning Bulletin as Rocky Sports Club co-founder Gavin Shuker shared a new overview of his proposed Sports and Entertainment Precinct.

Mr Shuker has worked with a range of local sporting clubs and organisations to create a map of what the precinct.

The precinct would encompass everything from the rowing centre at the Ski Gardens through to the Rockhampton Showgrounds and existing stadiums and courts at Huish Dr.

It would also include Rockhampton Netball Association's proposed 2000-seat indoor stadium (see Monday's edition for the full plan reveal) and a set of proposed running tracks which could allow Rocky Road Runners to host larger organised events.

Centre of the proposal is a stadium at Victoria Park with 8500 permanent seats and 16,000 temporary seats.

However, plans are also well advanced to redevelop Rockhampton's "home of rugby league” Browne Park into a $100 to $120 million stadium, seating 10,000 to 12,000 people.

Mr Shuker said he had been in discussions with many of the organisations which are housed around Huish Dr.

He was concerned that Rockhampton was being left behind the rest of the state and was no longer able to host the large sporting events which boosted the whole economy.

Rockhampton Sports Club proposal for a multi-purpose stadium with 8500 permanent seats that could handle a crowd of 16,000 by adding temporary additional seats.
Rockhampton Sports Club proposal for a multi-purpose stadium with 8500 permanent seats that could handle a crowd of 16,000 by adding temporary additional seats.

Mr Shuker said roughly 30,000 people were behind the precinct proposal, from Rocky Sports Club members, to the netballers, Rockhampton High School community, and members of the general public.

"I think it's just fantastic everyone has bonded together (over this project),” Mr Shuker said.

Beef Australia chairman Ian Mill said the international event would be "interested in” any projects which would add value to the showgrounds precinct.

Mr Cassidy urged the groups behind both stadium proposals to work together, rather than framing the plans as mutually exclusive.

With limited funding to go around, Mr Cassidy said it was easy to try to pick one 'winning' project.

However, he said avoiding this would be key to Rockhampton's success as a sporting tourism destination.

"If you look at them in isolation they're both really important proposals for the city's sporting tourism opportunities,” Mr Cassidy said.

"There's lots of good intentions from lots of organisations but the key to really benefiting from sporting tourism is to get a united voice and a proper master plan so we can have a proper sporting and showgrounds precinct master plan to really maximise the city's potential to increase our sporting tourism opportunities.”

An artist's impression of the proposed Victoria Park stadium.
An artist's impression of the proposed Victoria Park stadium.

Mr Cassidy said the two stadium proposals were equally strong, with a real need to redevelop Browne Park just as important as creating a united precinct of neighbouring sports.

"It shouldn't' even be a debate,” he said.

"We tend to sometimes argue ourselves to the point where we miss the opportunity.

"I think we're at the point where Rockhampton can do big events and can do them very well and I think we should be bold in what our master plan should look like and put our best foot forward.

"Let's not try and pick a winner and try and pitch one or two or three against each other.

"Let's take a really good longer term view and do a solid master plan and do it in a staged approach where the city's sporting precinct really becomes world class.”



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