A Brisbane inner-city harness racing track will make way for a 12-court indoor arena for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games.
The Brisbane City Council has confirmed an indoor arena will be built on the site of the Albion Park Paceway, on Yulestar Street in Albion, to host Olympic basketball games.
Brisbane City Councillor Krista Adams, chair of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games Committee, said the new Brisbane Indoor Sports Centre would include 12 indoor courts for basketball and volleyball, and would be on Racing Queensland-owned land at Albion.
“The Brisbane Indoor Sports Centre will be built on the current racecourse in Albion,” Adams said.
“This state-of-the-art facility will be used by the community and for people with disabilities through active sport participation and community programs.
“It could also be used for local, state, national and international events.”
Adams said it would be a para-sports centre of excellence beyond the Olympic Games in 2032.
The redevelopment would spell the end for harness racing on the site. Greyhounds racing is due to move from the facility in 2024—the Queensland government has previously supported the development of a $39-million Greater Brisbane Greyhound Centre at Ipswich, which is due for construction next year.
The Albion Park Paceway was opened in 1968 and its main grandstand was built in 1983 and demolished in 2009 after it was found to be structurally unsound.
Multiple plans have been put forward for the site, including the opportunity for in-fill residential development but all plans have been knocked back to date as a war waged between Racing Queensland and Harness Racing Queensland over ownership of the site.
Harness racing benefactor and property developer Kevin Seymour was one proponent of the reinvigoration of the site to create a dual purpose world-class racing facility with high-end residential offerings, and a football field in the centre of the track.
The Urban Developer approached Queensland Minister for Racing Grace Grace but she did not respond to requests for confirmation of the demise of the Albion Park Paceway or comment.
It is unclear where harness racing would move to after Albion Park is transformed into a sporting precinct, although a masterplan has been undertaken for the Deagon Racetrack.
The Urban Developer understands the state government and Racing Queensland are scoping prospective new harness racing venues.
Albion Park Raceway is the primary harness racing track in Brisbane and home of the Albion Park Harness Racing Club.
The Racing Development Corporation bought the Albion Park racecourse for $9 million in 1982 for the redevelopment of the venue for harness racing.
Albion could also be in line for a premium sporting precinct to take up the slack when The Gabba is demolished and out of action for four years in the lead up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympics.
The $1-billion redevelopment of the existing cricket stadium in Woolloongabba will serve as the main stadium, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies as well as athletics.
Speaking at the Property Council Queensland lunch recently, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Albion presented a unique opportunity for Olympic development with the Albion racetrack, Alan Border cricket fields, and Brothers Rugby Union fields creating a large swathe of greenfield space.
“Together this presents the opportunity for an amazing new sporting precinct,” he said.
“What happens to international cricket when The Gabba is closed for four years … what can we do in this precinct [to accommodate it].”
Brisbane’s inner north had already been identified as a key area for Olympic development with equestrian events slated for Victoria Park and an indoor basketball arena at Albion.
“Everyone wants to get cracking on the Olympic opportunities and there’s a lot of work to be done … we want to measure twice and cut once, it’s neither a sprint nor a marathon,” Schrinner said.
Queensland Cricket’s Alan Border Field is undergoing a refurbishment presently, however, the council declined to comment on whether stadium seating would be beefed up to accommodate international cricket matches in the future.
Adams said the Albion precinct was an obvious choice as an urban sports precinct due to its well-established transport links.
“There’s an incredible opportunity to masterplan a precinct that serves our city and our state for generations to come,” Adams said.
“This land is zoned sport and recreation, which means it’s a prime site for a premier sporting precinct and has the potential to expand on our well-established sustainability record.
“[Waste minimisation] initiatives combined with the water harvesting give us an opportunity to make a truly sustainable and enduring 27-hectare sporting precinct.”
Brisbane City Council announced it has engaged three internationally-acclaimed equestrian course designs to help guide the transformation of Victoria Park from a golf course, to a competitive equestrian arena ahead of the Olympic Games.
The team designing the course includes acclaimed UK cross country course designer Mike Etherington-Smith who designed the Sydney and Beijing Olympic Game courses.
Etherington-Smith will be joined by highly-regarded Australian course designer Grant Johnston and Australian Olympic equestrian stalwart Wayne Roycroft.
Etherington-Smith said Brisbane 2032 will be his third Olympic venue and he’s excited to showcase the river city to the world.
“We’ll be working with the council to ensure the route for the course is appropriate for an Olympic Games, which means making sure it is horse friendly while factoring in other elements such as television and spectator needs, overlay requirements, managing the course on competition days, a Test Event the year before, as well as exercising and schooling facilities linked to the showground,” he said.
“One of the biggest challenges will be blending a route for the 5700-metre course into the new park, while making sure it has good flow, isn’t too physically demanding on the horses given the terrain and that it reflects and showcases all that is good about Brisbane and Australia.
“It’s very rare to be able to create an Olympic venue in the middle of a city and alongside the redevelopment of a major public park, so this will be a truly unique and exciting project and we all look forward to working with the council and our colleagues in the equestrian world to bring this to life.”
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the temporary equestrian cross country course will be integrated into the development of the Victoria Park draft masterplan.
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