High performance centre, new McLean Stand on agenda at Ballymore

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A new high performance centre and refurbished McLean Stand are on top of the QRU's agenda, as momentum builds for a rejuvenation of Ballymore.

The push to redevelop Ballymore is high on the agenda for QRU CEO Richard Barker, with the stadium currently unfit to host matches above NRC level.

Brisbane is in dire need of a stadium smaller than the 52,500 capacity of Suncorp Stadium and given Ballymore's zoning and central location, redeveloping the home of Queensland rugby would be far cheaper than building a completely new ground of similar size.

Those points are key points that Barker has taken to the discussion table in recent months.

"We've got a few things moving around Ballymore," Barker said.The Reds could use Ballymore as a home ground for Super Rugby matches in the future. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"We are enjoying at the moment some pretty positive conversations with government and with a number of Ministers.

"Primarily, we want to make sure we get what's important for rugby in Queensland and that's a high performance centre that can cater not only for the professional side of the game but be an asset and a resource for the game across the state.

"Particularly with our women's programs, which are emerging and growing."

Should the Queensland state government provide the necessary funding, Barker said redevelopment of the McLean Stand would be top priority.

"There's nothing wrong with the Eastern Stand, (the McLean Stand) needs some work," Barker said.The QRU are in discussions with Tourism Minister Kate Jones and the Queensland Government. Photo: Getty Images"If we were to get the funding for a high performance centre we would probably see that centre built along with a refurb of this stand here.

"It will provide a place where Tier 2 Tests could be played, A-League soccer and maybe a few Super Rugby games from time-to-time.

"That's a key requirement for us as well as understanding what the commercial upside for us is."

On the commercialisation front, Barker said the QRU were eager to secure alternate sources of revenue which would annually assist their bottom line.

"When I talk about commercialisation here, this is talking about a revenue stream that continues to go back into the game," he said.

"So in 10 and 20 and 30 years we're not standing here having the same discussions that have been going on over the last coupe of decades.

"Certainly if there is some expansion in that area around the A-League and there is some interest around Ballymore becoming a ground and a venue, for them as well, we've got to be able to do that."

The other major positive would be the ability to use the refurbished Ballymore as a host of women's World Cup's in both rugby and soccer.

"We're not asking for another major stadium to be built - Suncorp Stadium is one of the best stadiums in world sport," Barker said.

"But if we're serious about attracting more events to Queensland - eg Women's World Cup in soccer, Women's World Cup in rugby - we probably need to have another facility that can cater for that and not necessarily be a 52,500 seating stadium."

The Reds take on the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, kicking off at 8pm AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.