CONCEPT IMAGES: This is an artist's impression of the proposed Rocky Stadium at Victoria Park, which has just secured a $23 million funding commitment from the Federal Government.
CONCEPT IMAGES: This is an artist's impression of the proposed Rocky Stadium at Victoria Park, which has just secured a $23 million funding commitment from the Federal Government.

FUNDING SHOCK: $23m committed to build Rockhampton stadium

MANY Central Queenslanders may choke on their Corn Flakes this morning upon learning the extraordinary news Rockhampton is finally getting the money to build a stadium - but not at Browne Park.

After years of being overlooked for major sporting and entertainment events in favour of other regional centres boasting stadiums, the Federal Government has committed $23 million toward building the proposed Rocky Stadium at Victoria Park.

A passion-project of co-president of Rocky Sports Club, Gavin Shuker, the Rocky Stadium aimed to create a multipurpose venue capable of hosting major events, as well as act as a local community and sporting hub, providing a boost to the Central Queensland region.

STADIUM ALTERNATIVE: Rocky Sports Club's Gavin Shuker recently inspected the Redcliffe Stadium and believes one similar could be built at Victoria Park, Rockhampton.
STADIUM ALTERNATIVE: Rocky Sports Club's Gavin Shuker recently inspected the Redcliffe Stadium and believes one similar could be built at Victoria Park, Rockhampton.

The proposed stadium would accommodate up to 8,500 in permanent seating and 16,000 in total after temporary seating was added.

The stadium construction phase promises to create up to 67 full-time jobs and inject over $44 million into the local economy.

Mr Shuker has found strong political support for the project from Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and One Nation's leader Pauline Hanson, who have advocated on behalf of the Rocky Stadium and both claim credit for the win.

The unlikely political partnership is expected to share in the media spotlight at the Rocky Sports Club on Monday morning (possibly armed with an oversized $23 million novelty cheque) for the formal stadium announcement.

Ms Landry hailed the new sporting venue as a gamechanger for Central Queensland, which delivered on her commitment to local sport and entertainment.

 

She traced her support for a Rockhampton Stadium back to an election commitment in 2013 for a $500,000 feasibility study to source the most appropriate place for the Rockhampton Stadium, with the Victoria Park site noted as the optimum option.

"Every great city needs a great stadium. We are already a great city but what we need is a great stadium," Ms Landry said.

"With a stadium of this size, we will have more capacity to be the home of more local sporting clubs, host international acts and have bigger sporting matches right here in Rockhampton along with the vast economic benefits that come with them."

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project would stimulate Rockhampton's economy and help build the capacity of this key regional city.

READ MORE:
>> STADIUMS COMPARED: Rocky Stadium, an alternative plan

>> First glimpse of Browne Park Stadium upgrade plan

>> Stadium poll results in as Browne Park Trust speaks out

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry looked forward to seeing the Rocky Stadium project stimulate the recovery of the region’s economy.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry looked forward to seeing the Rocky Stadium project stimulate the recovery of the region’s economy.

"The investment in the Rocky Stadium project builds on the Liberal and Nationals Government's commitment to better sporting infrastructure in Queensland, including a $100 million commitment to the North Queensland Stadium," Mr McCormack said.

"This is yet another example of our Government continuing to roll out our record $100 billion infrastructure pipeline and invest in supporting jobs and communities at a time when it's most needed."

The funding would be contingent on all relevant council and state approvals and processes being undertaken as well as meeting all federal funding requirements and obligations.

 

One Nation leader claims credit for delivering stadium

While the governing Coalition deserves credit for delivering the funding commitment, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said it was her concerted lobbying over the years that was instrumental in ultimately securing the funding for the project.

In an exclusive interview with The Morning Bulletin, the Queensland Senator said she knew the project was a winner after speaking with Gavin Shuker and visiting the alterative stadium site at Browne Park.

Senator Hansen was impressed with the way Mr Shuker had united more than 70 of region's sporting clubs together under the roof of Rocky Sports Club and was convinced that Victoria Park was the ideal location to build a stadium.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson speaking at the first annual dinner for the Rocky Sports Club where the Rocky Stadium proposal was announced.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson speaking at the first annual dinner for the Rocky Sports Club where the Rocky Stadium proposal was announced.

"As far as I'm concerned, Rocky needed something like that. You've lost big acts that you could have had in town," Senator Hanson said.

"So I took that immediately down to (Finance Minister) Mathias Cormann along with all the facts and reports with regards to it and I've been pushing for it ever since."

It was during a pivotal private dinner at the Lodge with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Senator Cormann last September that Senator Hanson placed the stadium issue clearly on the Prime Minister's radar.

Over the past year, she continued to lobby the government until a break through three weeks ago, when the funding commitment was secured.

It was a win like this, on behalf of people like Mr Shuker, which was one of the rewarding aspects of the One Nation leader's work.

She was adamant no deals were done regarding her party's ongoing support for the government in parliament, and she was simply a Queensland Senator fighting on behalf of her constituents to deliver much-needed infrastructure with a lot of potential benefits for locals.

CONCEPT IMAGES: Artist's impression of the proposed Rocky Stadium.
CONCEPT IMAGES: Artist's impression of the proposed Rocky Stadium.

"Rocky is fed up with being forgotten," she said.

"All the money goes to the south east corner and you've got to look after Central Queensland."

There were a number of reasons why she thought the Rocky Stadium was a better option than Browne Park Stadium.

"(I like) where it's positioned because it's got enough room there for parking," she said.

"It's got access to the walkways straight through to the city. You haven't got houses around it affected by noise.

"It's big enough for growth and it's going to be a lot cheaper to build than what Browne Park was going to cost."

While she was delighted to join Ms Landry and Senator Canavan in delivering the stadium for the community, Senator Hanson intended to push the government to hand over the money as quickly as possible to kickstart the region's post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

 

Capricorn Enterprise supports Rocky Stadium

With stadiums increasingly becoming 'community assets', contributing to the local area's long-term economic and social structure, Capricorn Enterprise maintains its strong support of Rocky Sports Club as a proposed future venue for Rockhampton's stadium.

FUNDING APPROVED: The Federal Government will commit $23 million towards building the Rocky Stadium at Victoria Park.
FUNDING APPROVED: The Federal Government will commit $23 million towards building the Rocky Stadium at Victoria Park.

Following a federally-funded ($250,000) feasibility study conducted in 2013/14 by global stadium design experts, Populous, which considered stadium trends and worldwide benchmarking, it was found the Lion Creek Road (Rocky Sports Club site) premises was the preferred site, perfectly suited as the essential ingredient in the urban matrix pulling the community together.

As a key priority initiative for the region since 2010, 10 potential sites were highlighted by the CQ NRL Bid Team for investigation by Populous, with constraints and risks taken into consideration.

These sites included Yeppoon, Parkhurst, Central Queensland University, Jardine Park, Kershaw Gardens, Lakes Creek Road, Aurizon CBD Site, Rosel Park, Browne Park, Rockhampton CBD and the Showgrounds Precinct.

Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll believes the new stadium would be ideally positioned at Victoria Park.
Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll believes the new stadium would be ideally positioned at Victoria Park.

It was found the Showgrounds Precinct, with three options in order of priority, named the site now known as the Rocky Sports Club as the best opportunity for positioning a new $20 million stadium, which will have the ability to cater for 16,000 people and indoor conference facilities for up to 1000.

Complementing economic growth, social issues, environmental impact, long-term community benefit, together with many other factors, the establishment of the multipurpose venue at Rocky Sports Club, would deliver a sports and entertainment precinct, which would provide an active lifestyle precinct that attracted visitors and encouraged crowds to stay longer.

Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll said the stadium's ideal geographical location would be a major landmark for CQ, and would set the benchmark for regional Australian multipurpose venues.

"The construction of the 'Rocky Stadium' will release the shackles for the region's ability and capability to host major events, providing enormous economic benefits for the community, and will build upon the existing facilities in the city," Ms Carroll said.

Rocky Sports Club general manager Jack Hughes believed the establishment of the new football and entertainment stadium would cement the already popular club as the 'go to' venue for entertainment and community spirit.

Rocky Sports Club’s Cathy Duffin, Jack Hughs and Karen Hall.
Rocky Sports Club’s Cathy Duffin, Jack Hughs and Karen Hall.

"From rugby league and rugby union to touch football and soccer, the Rocky Sports Club is already home to an array of sporting codes, with the proposed stadium allowing for many other sports to be hosted including bull-riding, boxing, motocross and more," Mr Hughes said.

"The stadium's geographical location sits within a precinct that is home to some 21 different sporting codes.

"Rocky Sports Club currently works with 76 clubs, events and associations annually, and is a venue focused on supporting the broader local community - a hub for support, fundraising, entertainment and sport."

Ms Carroll said while Capricorn Enterprise supported an upgrade to Browne Park, adjacent to the Rockhampton Leagues Club, the organisation had always supported a new stadium at the Rocky Sports Club site, which would cater for future growth, based on the 2014 findings in the expert Populous report.

 

What next for Browne Park?

The surprise Rocky Stadium announcement casts doubt over the future of the Queensland Government's and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke's preferred stadium upgrade option for Browne Park.

Harry’s view on Rocky’s Stadium battle.
Harry’s view on Rocky’s Stadium battle.

The Browne Park Stadium upgrade project has languished in uncertainty for years awaiting a formal funding announcement from the Queensland Government following the completion of a $150,000 feasibility study - the results of which were still yet to be released to the public.

It is unclear whether the Queensland Government would continue with their stadium plan or proceed a modified version or simply redirect the funding towards other needy local projects like the South Rockhampton Flood Levee or Great Keppel Island's undersea power and water connection.

STADIUM POLL: While a this July readers poll didn't get a large number of votes, there was a trend towards supporting the Victoria Park Stadium proposal over the Browne Park Stadium plan.
STADIUM POLL: While a this July readers poll didn't get a large number of votes, there was a trend towards supporting the Victoria Park Stadium proposal over the Browne Park Stadium plan.

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