We’re doing ourselves a favour tearing down the Molly Meldrum of sport stadiums

The political arguments over the cost of The Gabba rebuild and even what to officially call the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics only go to show that the fun of the Games has already started, writes Jim Tucker

Mar 31, 2023, updated Mar 31, 2023
The future of Brisbane's planned $2.7 billion Olympic stadium will be decided in just 60 day. Image: BESIX Watpac

The future of Brisbane's planned $2.7 billion Olympic stadium will be decided in just 60 day. Image: BESIX Watpac

One unexplored method to make the new Olympic stadium at the Gabba fit for 2032 is to rejig the track to a pure 400m straight.

Think about it. Rather than let the pincer movement of Stanley Street and Vulture Street squeeze the arena into being known as “the best narrow stadium in the world”, let’s see some lateral thinking.

Now the swoop on the land formerly known as East Brisbane State School has been confirmed, you can see the potential.

The 400m heats and final can start in the old school courtyard and the finish line can be the invisible line between the Chalk Hotel and a point on the Cross River Rail plaza. What a sight…eight finalists at full pelt like horses winding up down the long finishing straight at Eagle Farm.

Those in the hotel’s front bar will have the best seats in the house and can raise a pot of Games Special Lager with its six per cent kick. Gold.

Of course, this is just a flippant view of the new Gabba. A budget of $2.7 billion for the redevelopment can solve anything. The constraints that stadium architects and designers are working with will be solved with our money.

There are a few things missed by those using the emotional argument that this bill is grotesque for the sake of adding just 8000 seats to the current 42,000-seat layout of the Gabba.

The “just-add-a-lick-of-paint” brigade trip at the first hurdle. The current Gabba would be the worst Olympic Stadium of modern times to host an Opening Ceremony even with a spruce up. It’s more tired than Molly Meldrum.

The venue is being lapped almost annually in Australia by far better and newer facilities luring big events…Sydney’s Allianz Stadium, Perth Stadium, Adelaide Oval and Melbourne’s array of arenas.

It’s not 8000 new seats being built. It’s 50,000 new ones with proper transport, a huge pedestrian plaza and connected entertainment precinct. Go to any big Brisbane Lions match at the Gabba and it takes twice as long to empty 35,000 fans from the ground than it does the MCG to empty 100,000.

Those still dreamily imagining a late sidestep to build the main stadium at Albion Park or at the Exhibition Ground have it right. They are dreaming.

For those who haven’t realised it by now, the Olympics have already started.

The Olympics IS delving into the numbing minutiae of spending, stadiums, sacked officials, transport puzzles, neighbourhood gripes, backflips, captain’s calls by Government and any single person who complains they have to wear sunglasses at midnight because of a light spill from a tower.

We have nine years of this ahead before the candles go on the cake for two weeks.

My tip, immerse yourself in the fun part. Queenslanders have the next nine years to build a love affair with the 400m and every other track and field event.

Why not start now with the 100th edition of the Chemist Warehouse Australian Track and Field Championships being held in Brisbane for the first time since 2015. The action started on Thursday and runs until Sunday’s climax at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre at Nathan.

That’s the old QEII Stadium for those who haven’t sat their backsides in the old aluminium grandstands since the 1982 Commonwealth Games or Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 concert.

We might be a greater swimming state than most nations on the planet but the biggest, longest bang at any Olympics is the track and field program. The program runs for 10 days and near enough to 50 gold medals are awarded.

On Saturday, the men’s and women’s 100m finals will be run just after 4pm (AEDT) for the Australian titles.

For those in on the ground floor, you’ll hopefully see breakout Queensland star Torrie Lewis right in the medal hunt. The prodigious talent was still at St Peters Lutheran College studying and attending her Year 12 formal last year.

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She is just 18 but with wings on her heels. Her 11.23 sec for the 100m early in March was a tick faster than Cathy Freeman ever ran when she was still dabbling in the short sprint as a 20-year-old.

Lewis will only be 27 when the 2032 Olympics roll around, perhaps in her prime at 200m or 400m by then. Perhaps, the lure of 2032 will keep her in the sport that long.

Fellow Queenslanders Ella Connolly, Bree Masters and Naa Anang, if fully fit, will all have a say in Saturday’s 100m as well.

These are the athletes and stories of hard work we should all be absorbing not numbing off-track sagas.

A final note. Amongst the latest jokes was the suggestion that the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games instead be called “Southeast Queensland 2032.”

Who makes this stuff up?

The Olympics have always had a host city, one host city and sharing to suit.

When Queensland Sport Hall of Famer John Cuneo won a gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics, he wasn’t within 800km of Munich.

He was in Kiel winning the Dragon class sailing event on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast. That example has been repeated countless times.

Even one minute spent on juggling the naming conventions of government emails and documents to “Brisbane 2032 Queensland” will be a waste.

Hurry. Let the Games begin.

Jim Tucker has specialised in sport, the wider impacts and features for most of his 40 years writing in the media. He was an Olympics junkie even before watching Lionel Ritchie sing All Night Long at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics closing ceremony.

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