Olympic Plans Reimagined: Brisbane Arena Plans Overhauled After Review

Brisbane Arena
Artist’s impression of the new Brisbane Arena (Photo credit: Populous)

The independent review into the venue plans for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics has been completed and it recommended major changes to the flagship Brisbane Arena project.

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The long-awaited $2.5 billion arena, designed by Populous, was originally proposed to be built over the Roma Street rail lines in Brisbane’s inner city. However, the review panel has advised against proceeding with that location due to significant costs and disruptions it would cause to rail services.

Key Findings:

  • Building over the Roma Street rail corridor would result in a “significant and costly impact” on the rail signalling system.
  • Around 40 percent of rail services through Roma Street Station would need to be suspended for over two years during construction.
  • An additional 200 buses, not accounted for in the $2.5B budget, would be required to provide rail replacement services.
  • The projected construction timeline leaves little buffer for potential delays on such a complex site.
Photo credit: Populous

Instead, the review recommends relocating the Brisbane Arena, also known as Brisbane Live, about 500 metres away to a site currently occupied by a car park and maintenance depot, just north of the Roma Street Parkland. This would avoid the major rail disruptions whilst still positioning the arena in a central transport hub location.

The review panel considered several alternative sites for the Brisbane Arena, including Roma Street car park/depot, Parmalat, Visy, Queensland Police HQ, River Stage Precinct, Spring Hill, and Victoria Park. Most were deemed unviable due to issues like land acquisition costs, need to relocate existing operations causing program risks, flooding risks, site constraints, and inadequate size or proximity to transit. 

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Based on the analysis provided, the panel concluded the Roma Street car park/depot site north of Roma Street Parkland is the only viable option that can deliver the arena in time for the 2032 Games. This location also provides an opportunity to better integrate the arena with the surrounding urban environment compared to the original over-rail plan.

Photo credit: Google Street View

The panel advised that appropriate vehicular access, pedestrian links, and underground parking need to be incorporated into the new arena design on the alternative site. Upgrades would also be required to widen and improve accessibility along the pedestrian pathway linking the site to Roma Street Station.

Perhaps most significantly, the review estimates the total cost of the revamped project is “anticipated to be in excess of $4 billion” once all the associated works are factored in. This is well above the $2.5 billion budget previously agreed with the Australian government for Olympic funding.

A decision on investing in the project is required by early 2025 to ensure the Arena’s completion by early 2031, providing adequate time for pre-Games test events.

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The Queensland government will now need to decide whether to proceed with the recommendations and find a way to fund the higher price tag for this major 2032 Games venue. With just over a decade until the Opening Ceremony, getting the Brisbane Arena plans finalised is a critical early step.

Published 19-March-2024