Barlow Park tops list as site for new rectangular stadium in Cairns
BARLOW Park has been named the preferred site for a 20,000-capacity rectangular stadium in Cairns but it will take more than $110 million to complete the transformation.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning supports the results of an extensive study that narrowed down a list of 20 locations to just two, and found Barlow Park was a better prospect than the other option, the Cairns Showgrounds across the road.
The first stages, worth a combined $111 million, can be done in the "foreseeable future" according to a report presented to councillors yesterday, boosting capacity with 10,000 seats and standing room for another 10,000 spectators.
The planned upgrade would make Barlow Park a drawcard for televised fixtures of national rectangular pitch sports such as rugby union, league and soccer, as well as creating jobs for nearly 150 people.
But it will be the next generation of sports lovers that enjoy Barlow as a completed stadium of 20,000 seats, with Cr Manning insisting the costly construction will be staged only as demand requires.
"It's a site that's certainly got great merit to it it's well located being close to the CBD, and it's already got a lot of great infrastructure that we can build upon," Cr Manning said.
The full council will vote on the matter at a meeting on Wednesday.
The council paid $217,000 to consultants Coffey Commercial Advisory to determine what capacity stadium the region needed and could afford.
The consultants recommended Barlow Park because the existing infrastructure meant the front-end costs would be low. But the council will still need to seek funding from the state and federal governments to get the work done.
When the transformation starts, the first job will be tearing up the athletics track and moving it somewhere else so footy spectators can be seated closer to the action on field.
Meanwhile, the playing surface and carpark would be upgraded for a combined cost of about $14.4 million, and two new light towers could be installed for a further $2.9 million.
New grandstands would be added later, along with food and beverage outlets, a training gym, broadcasting equipment and corporate facilities.
By the time the last stage is complete and the stadium can seat 20,000 people, it is envisaged Cairns would be home to a state-level team in rugby league and soccer, and would attract two national-level games in each of the three major codes.
Council officers warned the plans will not be welcomed by local athletics groups, unless their running track stays in central Cairns.
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Game on: Artist's impression of how a redeveloped Barlow Park could look.