Cairns' Barlow Park upgrade put on backburner
FOOTY fans should get comfortable in their existing grandstands because it will be years before any work begins to transform Barlow Park into a state-of-the-art rectangular stadium.
Cairns Regional Council yesterday stopped short of formally endorsing Barlow as the preferred site for a $111 million rectangular stadium following pressure from the local athletics fraternity, which does not want to be turfed out of its home grounds.
And the state's Sports Minister Steve Dickson told Far Northern sports groups yesterday it would be at least 18 months before government funding would be available for huge infrastructure such as a regional stadium.
"I'd love to build a stadium in every capital city on the east coast in Queensland, but the reality is we don't have the money to do that," Mr Dickson said, adding that a robust business case would be essential to secure state government funding.
"Show us how a facility like that can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week ... because in the past it was 'You want a stadium? Yeah OK, you can have one'."
Cairns councillors had been advised by CRC staff to endorse Barlow Park as the site for a rectangular stadium yesterday after an exhaustive search by Coffey Commercial Advisory found it was the most suitable choice in the region.
But instead the council unanimously decided to tread cautiously on the project, opting only to receive the Coffey report and strike out any decision to formally anoint Barlow Park as the chosen venue.
The council insists it will earnestly pursue the state and federal governments for funding, and the project is not on the backburner even though it will need to be staged over many years.
"The council is generally in (agreement) that Barlow Park is the preferred site, but there's no funding and we don't want to formally commit to a site until there's funding," acting Mayor Terry James said.
sThe position is welcomed by Cairns Athletics, who would be forced to move to new facilities if Barlow became a rectangular stadium.
But rectangular pitch football codes insist a stadium would be an economic boon, and the region shouldn't drop the ball.
"We want to make sure it's high on the council's priorities - funds are tight, but we have to make sure the code, the council and all the stakeholders are on board and pushing it as quickly as possible," Northern Pride CEO Chris Sheppard said.
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.
Share this article
Long wait:Cairns Regional Council has stopped short of endorsing Barlow Park for an upgrade to a rectangular stadium.