Prominent Coast identities have thrown their support behind a bid to secure a regional convention centre in the new Maroochydore CBD as part of a 2032 Olympic Games bid.
Long-time proponents of a convention centre project have backed Fairfax MP Ted O’Brien’s push to secure a facility capable of hosting Olympic events and then being scaled up in future stages, as a showcase venue in the new city centre.
His desire to leverage the 2032 southeast Queensland Olympic bid to deliver a convention centre and a heavy rail link to Brisbane was matched by others which included prominent developer Rod Forrester and philanthropist Roy Thompson.
Documents released by the International Olympic Committee showed a convention centre had been earmarked for the Maroochydore CBD, to host basketball preliminaries and a media centre.
Here’s what the high-profile identities had to say:
The honorary director of University of Queensland’s Centre of Olympic Studies and Noosa local said he thought it was a smart approach to try and leverage the Games bid to deliver a venue.
He said more than $2 billion worth of infrastructure funding would be available from the International Olympic Committee for the 2032 edition and the focus was now on helping deliver legacy projects to regional areas.
Dr Jobling said a performing arts centre in the Maroochydore CBD could double as a host venue for the likes of weightlifting and other events.
“We really need something … more appropriate,” he said.
He said the 11-year lead in time was also beneficial as it gave local councils and other tiers of government time to budget for infrastructure improvements.
“We still have to be proactive in the regions,” the honorary associate professor said.
The region’s most prolific philanthropist alongside his wife Nola, Mr Thompson has long been an admirer of the arts.
Mr Thompson said he backed the approach taken by Mr O’Brien and wanted the region to secure three things: an entertainment centre, an upgraded stadium and a heavy rail connection from Maroochydore to Brisbane.
“The big train, not that little thing (light rail),” Mr Thompson said.
“It’d be great to get those before the Olympics.”
He said he would contribute personal funds to any entertainment/convention centre project in the Maroochydore city centre.
“I am definitely supporting it, no troubles,” he said.
The former Maroochy Shire mayor has been a long-time campaigner for cultural infrastructure in the region.
She said she felt the Olympics was the catalyst to deliver such a venue and she was “150 per cent behind it”.
She said it would be not just a cultural but a sporting advancement for the region.
“I think that we can do it,” Ms Barry-Jones said.
She said the new CBD was the best place for the venue as the state government had designated it the “capital city of the Sunshine Coast”.
Ms Barry-Jones said now was the time to leverage the opportunity and secure the project, which she said had always been designed as a long-term benefit for the region.
The renowned architect who has designed some of the Coast’s most recognisable landmarks said a facility of a $60-$80 million first stage scale which could be expanded was the right approach.
“We’re talking about doing it sensibly, doing something we can afford,” Mr Down said.
He said the Coast should jump at the opportunity the Olympics presented to secure significant civic infrastructure which included heavy rail.
“We need fast rail, the light rail to me is just a nonsense that somebody has fallen in love with,” Mr Down said.
He said the Maroochydore CBD made sense as a convention centre location with the heavy rail corridor already in place.
Mr Down said he was certain a new convention centre would get buy-in from other benefactors and local funding sources.
“We’ve got an opportunity now,” he said.
“It’s about being clever.”
He said the Coast was lacking culture and employment opportunities for youth and if performing arts, cultural centre and other uses could be wrapped into the new facility it would start to stack up as opposed to just a stand-alone convention centre which he said didn’t make money in their own right.
The former Olympic boxer said the region needed to establish an Olympic task force, with everyone working together, to deliver for the whole of the Coast.
He said a new exhibition, entertainment and convention centre was a good starting point, but similarly to the lead-up to the 2000 Olympics, there had to be benefits for the whole region.
“If that centre is something that can be out of that, that’s great, but there could be other things as well,” Mr Pike said.
“We’ve got to work together as one group as we did 21 years ago.”
He said much of the infrastructure delivered then was on the back of efforts of individual sporting associations too, who led the calls for improvements.
The prominent property developer said he too was prepared to tip in personal funds to a convention centre project and said the opportunity was now.
He said the Coast was “so far behind” in infrastructure and lamented the fact that despite being half the size of the Gold Coast already the region lacked so much infrastructure compared to its southern counterpart.
“In every respect if you run a parallel we’ve got nothing like the infrastructure they’ve (Gold Coast) got,” Mr Forrester said.
He said the CBD made sense for a new venue, with a heavy rail servicing it.
“It’s infrastructure that can be used in more than one way,” Mr Forrester said.
He said he couldn’t see any other location for it in the region without it fragmenting the Coast.
“I like the idea that we can expand on it and build on it,” he said.
“We need to capitalise on it (opportunity), even if it does need to be done in stages.”