After many false starts, it would seem the first sods will finally be turned at Springfield this year for the new Brisbane Lions football facility.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the Federal Government will contribute the outstanding $15 million towards building a boutique 10,000-seat stadium adjacent the Springfield Central railway station.
The Queensland Government last year promised $15 million the minute Canberra matched that funding amount. Then-Treasurer Morrison was expected to announce it in the May 2018 Federal Budget but the money was not forthcoming.
The Lions had already secured $18 million from the Springfield Land Corporation, $12 million from Ipswich City Council, while the club and the AFL provided a combined $10 million for the overall $70 million price tag.
The PM’s midweek handball should ensure the Lions are in their new home base at Springfield for the 2021 season.
Ipswich Interim Administrator Greg Chemello was delighted.
“I welcome the announcement made by the Prime Minister that the Federal Government will financially support the development of much-needed major sporting facilities for Ipswich,” he said.
“The Springfield stadium will not only promote elite sport for women, via a partnership with the Brisbane Lions women’s AFL team, but it will also be available for broad community use, which will be incredibly beneficial to the residents across the Ipswich local government area.”
The Reserve, as it will be known, will be a complete regional sports and events precinct. The project centres on a boutique arena that will accommodate up to 10,000 spectators to witness elite sports matches and major community events staged on the main oval. The Reserve will be the home of AFL women’s matches and second-tier AFL events in South East Queensland. The Lions’ men’s team will train there and play some pre-season games.
The arena will include a high-performance gymnasium incorporating state-of-the-art learning and teaching facilities, lap pool and aquatic recovery pools and sports medical infrastructure.
Significantly, for Springfield Central rail commuters, a new multi-storey car park to accommodate 1000 vehicles will be built adjacent to the stadium and train station.
The Reserve will be owned by Ipswich City Council and leased to the Brisbane Lions Football Club. ICC and the Lions have executed a Heads of Agreement that commits Lions to building The Reserve on council-provided land and to relocating its high performance training and administration centre to the site.
It was hoped the stadium would be built in time for the women’s AFLW season in January 2020 – but better late than never and a year down the track in 2021 is the likely ribbon-cutting/ball up ceremony.
Minor work had started at the site in 2018, with major construction now planned for late 2019.
Mr Morrison, in Brisbane for the announcement this week, said any young girl in Queensland who dreamed of a career in the AFLW knew there was a home for them.
“Why do we love sports so much? Because it brings communities together,’’ he said.
“To give women’s football, women’s AFL, a real shot in the arm, we’re announcing today $15 million for this wonderful project, The Reserve project, out here at Springfield, which is going to be the new home of the Brisbane Lions women’s AFL.’’
Lions Women’s CEO Breeanna Brock said the news was a dream come true after years of hard work campaigning and compared it to winning the lotto.
“It’s just going to change the game for us, we couldn’t be happier,” Ms Brock said.
“To have all levels of government come together is amazing for what it’s going to do for women’s football in Queensland.”
Lions Chairman Andrew Wellington thanked both the Federal and Queensland State Governments for their support of the project.
“The Queensland State Government have previously indicated their financial support for the project, subject to that funding being matched by the Federal Government,” Mr Wellington said.
“This announcement from the Federal Government means we can now start working directly with all levels of government to take the project forward.
“The Reserve’ will not just provide a home for our AFLW team, it will also allow us space and resources to properly expand our Hyundai Help for Kids Academy so that it can cater to the exponential growth we are seeing in participation in women’s football.”
MP for Jordan Charis Mullen said it was huge news for the community.
“I’m pleased that the Federal Government has finally committed its funding to this project – with the State’s commitment known since June last year,” she said.
“As the local Member, I want to ensure that the value of this important investment into our region is shared with our local community and I know the Brisbane Lions are committed to this as well.
“Now that we finally have certainty on this project, I will work with all stakeholders to ensure The Reserve, our new $44.5 million Park n Ride in Springfield Central and local road infrastructure are planned together to maximise the benefit for our local community and visitors to our region.”