New stadium will put CQ's NRL team bid ahead of the rest
The CQ NRL Bid management has met with the NRL many times over the last four years. We are always made to feel welcome and we feel trusted by all levels of the NRL hierarchy.
We have promised the NRL many times that we will never embarrass the NRL by making the contents of any confidential discussions public.
The NRL respects the integrity of the CQ NRL Bid, its people and our ambitions.
In this mutually trusting environment, I am able to declare that in all discussions at the NRL, we have addressed the four main criteria that will be the subject of adjudication in any NRL expansion decision making process.
These criteria are: viability, stadia, media and grassroots of rugby league.
The list of potential NRL expansion bids seems to continually grow and depending on the commentator the "favouritism" is also constantly varying.
Most bidding regions or cities have an existing, albeit older, NRL compliant stadium to house the expanded team.
Most, that is, except us - central Queensland.
Our detractors, and there are quite a few, mostly metropolitan based, mention this lack of a current stadium as the big weakness of CQ Bid. It is in fact our real strength. Let me explain.
Some of the Brisbane-based bids claim that they will share Suncorp with the other three anchor tenants, the Broncos, Reds and Roar, and the many other sporting and cultural events staged at Suncorp.
However, the people who know the professional sporting landscape in the south-east of the state and who know how metropolitan stadia like Suncorp work and wear, realise that this "sharing" is impractical and will fail.
The only credible bids in the south-east propose to use a new stadium built in the west of Brisbane in the so-called western corridor.
This stadium will not be built for a considerable period of time according to our sources. Some estimates suggest 15 years.
This existing stadia situation applies to other bidders, including Perth, Gosford and the second team in New Zealand (Wellington) but excludes PNG, who like us are without a stadium.
So why are we advantaged by not having a stadium now?
Because the CQ stadium will be built in the next few years and will have all the fantastic features of a modern and smart stadium incorporated into its design and function.
The CQ stadium will be a world-class facility capable of staging a wide variety of sporting, social and cultural events. It will be environmentally friendly, comfortable and most important of all, accessible.
The Federal Government recently allocated $500,000 to proceed with the first stage of the stadium project.
This initial process is known as the "licensing and approvals" stage and encompasses all of the studies, concepts, consultations, design and planning that have to precede the tendering processes.
These tasks usually take about nine to 12 months and are extremely thorough, especially with regards to the site selection and the public consultation processes.
I endorse the thoroughness of these procedures because the CQ stadium will not belong to the CQ NRL Club. It will be a public asset and a vital one at that. The CQ stadium project has begun.