Cowboys turn to NAIF to get centre of excellence
THE North Queensland Cowboys hope to turn the first sod on their new centre of excellence within three months, despite funding for the world-class facility still being up in the air.
North Queensland officials have been in talks with the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to secure a loan for a centre the club believes will ensure it remains a force in the NRL for the next 50 years.
Officially called the Community, Training and High Performance Centre, it will be built next to the new North Queensland Stadium.
Cowboys chief executive Jeff Reibel said the club's goal was for construction to start in November.
The facility will feature a training field, community areas, multi-sport high-performance training spaces, sports medicine and sports science laboratories, as well as offices.
The Cowboys have previously said the club could afford $15 million towards the facility.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison committed $15 million to the project ahead of the May federal election, but NAIF has confirmed the club's approach for a potential loan.
"Due to the commercial nature of discussions, NAIF is unable to comment on the details of the requested loan, but we can confirm that the project has passed the strategic assessment phase of the NAIF process and assessed as having the potential to meet NAIF's mandatory criteria," an official said.
"The project is now undergoing due diligence by NAIF prior to a final decision on funding, known as an Investment Decision, being made by the NAIF board."
The official said the centre was made up of social and economic infrastructure, which the NAIF investment mandate supported.
The Technology Innovation Centre at James Cook University was an example of social infrastructure to which NAIF had committed funding, he said.
The official said it would continue to work with the Cowboys and assess information as soon as it was available and ready for assessment. The club will remain at its current administrative and training facilities at 1300SMILES Stadium next season but will relocate in 2021.
Mr Reibel met with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday during a North Queensland Stadium visit.
Mr Reibel said he had spoken with Ms Palaszczuk afterwards to share the club's vision for the stadium precinct, which will include the Community, Training and High Performance Centre.
Once built, the centre could attract touring sports teams and other elite athletes looking for state-of-the art sport science and training facilities.