14 November 2022

Is Exhibition Park really an option for a new Canberra sporting stadium? Surely not!

| Tim Gavel
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Aerial photo of Exhibition Park (EPIC)

Exhibition Park’s (EPIC) in the running as the site of a new stadium, but of all the things it is, it’s not in the city. Photo: File.

After so much back and forth, surely it’s time the ACT Government returned to the original design brief for a new sporting stadium first put forward close to a decade ago: a rectangular stadium in the CBD with a clear roof.

The Civic Olympic Pool currently occupies the site identified in the CBD.

Civic Olympic Pool. Photo: File.

Dreams of a stadium on the site of the Civic Olympic Pool appear sunk. Photo: File.

The theory for the location of a new stadium was that it would work in well with the life of the city. There are many examples of stadiums built close to CBDs throughout the world. It fits in with transport options, offers places to eat and drink before or after an event at the stadium, and adds to a city’s life.

It would allow fans going to games to benefit from a total match-day experience.

READ ALSO ACT Government commences upgrades to make sports grounds more female-friendly

In contrast, Canberra Stadium is situated well away from the benefits of the CBD and offers little in the way of ambience, with a cold concrete atmosphere.

But the Civic Olympic Pool location has been knocked on the head for a variety of reasons. Several alternative options have been put forward, including Turner, Exhibition Park at Mitchell, and the existing site at Bruce.

I am not sure about the Turner plan. It’s in the middle of suburbia, while a new stadium at Bruce would ensure the concept has gone full circle.

There are also plenty of hurdles to overcome at Bruce, including the ownership of the ground.

Exhibition Park, although identified as an option, fulfils very little of the original criteria for building a new stadium in the first place.

crowd cheering

Summernats at EPIC Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Exhibition Park is ideal for annual shows like the Folk Festival and Summernats, but it has minimal appeal as a walk-to sporting stadium. Sure it has light rail but there is little CBD feel about EPIC and if that is the best alternative, you might as well build the stadium on the current location at Bruce.

There also appears to be a certain amount of backtracking on the original proposal to have a covered stadium.

The continued talk of a new stadium brings a sense of déjà vu. It reminds me of the ABC radio serial Blue Hills. It went for 27 years with 5,795 episodes. Let’s hope it doesn’t take the same amount of time to finally see a new stadium built in Canberra.

Original Article published by Tim Gavel on Riotact.

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