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Ballymore redevelopment back on the cards

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/05/2017 Vince Rugari

The long-awaited redevelopment of Ballymore Stadium is back on the table thanks to a proposal for a second Brisbane A-League team.

The consortium behind FC Brisbane City has allocated funding for a "progressive refurbishment" of the Queensland Rugby Union-owned facility in Herston, where they would play all of their home games if successful.

The intimate 18,000-seat venue is in desperate need of renovation but has the potential to become an ideal boutique venue for the A-League.

It would also benefit the Queensland Reds, who have struggled financially in recent years and are seeking to bring additional content to Ballymore, like rugby's mooted State of Origin adaptation and possibly Super Rugby games in the future.

The stadium, however, is just the first step.

The long-term plan is for FC Brisbane City to back the QRU's vision to seek government support for a full-scale redevelopment.

That means revisiting an old blueprint to build a centre of excellence that includes a medical centre, athletes' village, additional training fields, Olympic pool and gymnasium, with parklands and picnic areas accessible to the public.

It nearly happened in 2010 but the incoming Rudd Government pulled $25 million in funding that had been committed to the $100 million project.

"The stadium is the centrepiece. It's a multisports complex and we see the synergies between football and rugby working quite well together," QRU chief executive Richard Barker told AAP.

"The vision for us is to deliver a world-class community, recreation and high-performance sporting precinct.

"With the possibility of another A-League team coming in, it's a great catalyst for us to re-start that journey.

"Ballymore has a heartbeat and a soul, because it was built by people who were passionate about what sport stood for back then.

"We want Ballymore to be a destination again."

Final negotiations between FC Brisbane City and the QRU, who have development approval for Ballymore, are ongoing but in principle agreements have been made.

City have history at Ballymore - in 1981, they played a National Soccer League match against Newcastle KB United as a curtain raiser to a rugby union clash between Queensland and Italy.

Their clubhouse is at Spencer Park, which is only 500m away.

Ballymore is already home to the Reds and two National Rugby Championship sides, with Brisbane Roar to vacate when their new training and administration base at Logan is completed towards the end of the year.

FC Brisbane City's bid chief Robert Cavallucci said their aim was to create a fundamentally different match day experience to the Roar, who had the fourth-highest average crowds in the A-League this season but sometimes struggle for atmosphere at the 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium.

"We knew very early on we could only deliver that through being at Ballymore," Cavallucci said.

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