An artist’s impression of what the Springfield Central stadium would look like.
Lions CEO Greg Swann has confirmed the Federal Government wrote to the AFL club this week pledging support for the project and indicating it would match $15 million in funding from the State Government.
Mr Swann said the Queensland Government had previously written to the Lions promising the $15 million in the June 12 State Budget on the condition that the Federal Government matched the contribution.
The go-ahead for the $70 million project, including a boutique AFL football stadium at Springfield Central, now all hinges on Mr Morrison confirming as such when he delivers his Budget in Canberra on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately, the apparent confirmation of the move to Springfield yesterday might have been a bit premature – and not for the first time. Although, Mr Swann said this was the first time the Federal Government had actually made a pledge of support in writing.
“We need the money to drop in the next budget periods (May 8 and June 12) but we are very confident that is going to happen,” he said.
The Lions had been invited to apply for the $15 million shortfall via a federal incentive program. Ipswich City Council, on its behalf, had done exactly the same, but did not expect a response on that application to the Regional Growth Fund for at least six months.
It was unclear on all sides if the Morrison cheque would come from that funding program, which closed on April 27, or from another area of his Budget.
Mr Swann said if the money from all governments was forthcoming sooner rather than later, the Lions hoped to turn the first sod of dirt by late 2018 and have the ground ready for the start of the women’s AFL season in January 2020.
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 council to constructing The Reserve and commits the Lions to relocating its high performance training and administration centre to the site.
Planning, Development and Heritage Committee Chair and Division 1 Councillor David Morrison said council was sitting on the sideline, waiting for confirmation from the Federal and State Governments.
“The talk is very positive, but I think we need to see something in writing,” Cr Morrison said.
“When the three levels of government and the private partners get together on this project, we know we can kick some great goals.”