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Sport and entertainment precinct could be a game winner

An artist's impression of North Ipswich Reserve Stadium.

The Ipswich Leaders Alliance wants the major political parties to “get in the game” in the lead-up to the State Election and support the expansion of national sporting codes into the Ipswich region.

Neither the ALP nor the LNP has committed funds towards one of the major priorities ahead of the 31 October Queensland poll: “Support for sporting team expansion in the Ipswich region and $2.5m in funding to complete the Detailed Business Case for the North Ipswich Sport and Entertainment Precinct”.

The Alliance releases its latest Make Your Vote Count for Ipswich state election scorecard today, a week out from polling, with a complete list of full, partial or no commitment highlights from political parties on eight major priorities for the region.

Those priorities include the Ipswich Central to Springfield Central public transport corridor, Ipswich Central second Bremer River crossing, and waste industry reform.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding, who chairs the Alliance advocacy group, said members are asking all parties to commit to the North Ipswich precinct project, which is seen as vital if the region wants to attract and secure NRL and A-League expansion teams here.

“Ipswich is Queensland’s sporting heartland, and significant infrastructure will be critical to catering for our growing base of supporters across the region over the next two decades,” she said.

“The Ipswich Leaders Alliance is advocating to all state political parties for $2.5 million in business case funding to convert North Ipswich Reserve into a Sport and Entertainment Precinct, capable of supporting both an Olympic bid for South-East Queensland and national sporting franchises in our city.

“The precinct is envisaged to be anchored around a boutique code-compliant stadium on the current site.

“We have a strong rugby league history and tradition in Ipswich and our community supports an NRL team based in Ipswich. We definitely have the means to make this happen.

“An Ipswich-based NRL bid makes sense. We could have the infrastructure in place, support services and a solid fan base. Something like this could kick-start the economy and set us up for the future.”

Mayor Harding said Ipswich is the home to many avid sport followers, with one of the highest engagement in organised sports in Queensland through 60 sport and recreational facilities catering to over 150 clubs and organisations. Sport is a key driver of community cohesion and health and wellbeing outcomes across all groups in the region.

The Ipswich Jets Rugby League Club and Ipswich Western Pride Football Club are seeking entry into national NRL and A-League competitions. These codes require a compliant venue in which to host games and train.

“The Ipswich region is significantly under-provisioned in large scale social infrastructure capable of attracting or hosting national sporting or major entertainment events, forcing Ipswich residents to travel elsewhere to engage in live sporting and entertainment events,” Mayor Harding said.

“This penalises Ipswich residents by making major recreational entertainment inaccessible locally, and economically jeopardises the resilience of the local economy by forcing entertainment expenditure into other regions and outside the reach of local businesses.

“A revitalisation of North Ipswich Reserve into a sporting and entertainment precinct anchored around a rectangular boutique stadium is a necessary pre-requisite for entry into national sporting competitions, and will bring large scale sporting infrastructure in Ipswich into line with other regions.”

The Alliance is asking all parties to commit $2.5 million to deliver the Detailed Business Case for the North Ipswich Sport and Entertainment Precinct, continuing investigations into a suitable code-compliant venue. Only Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has agreed to the $2.5 million commitment to date.

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 >>>State Election scorecard highlights commitments to Ipswich

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