Cricket Australia pushes iconic Gabba to modernise

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 24: A general view of the Gabba is seen during the Ford Ranger Cup match between the Queensland Bulls and the Western Australian Warriors at The Gabba on October 24, 2009 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE: A failure to keep up with the times has already cost one iconic Australian cricket ground lucrative Test matches and the pressure is now on Brisbane’s Woolloongabba ground to modernise.

The Gabba has traditionally hosted the first Test of each Australian summer but has begun to look dated after major renovations at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Adelaide Oval.

A new 60,000-seat stadium at Burswood in Perth is slated to be finished in time for the 2018 season, stripping high-profile Test matches from the same city’s rickety WACA ground which dithered for years over re-development plans.

The Gabba has no immediate fear of a new cross-town rival springing up but the 120-year ground been put on notice by Cricket Australia.

“There has been growth in the stadiums around the country. Making sure that Brisbane and Queensland stay competitive in this space is pretty important,” CA high performance chief Howard told Australian Associated Press.

“I think there is a lot of opportunity to deal with it. Not just inside the ground, but outside the ground, the precinct, the accessibility … [it needs to be] a good stadium comparable with all the other ones around Australia.

“I know those at the Gabba are well and truly across all of those [possibilities] but how they get them going and in what timeframe is obviously always going to be a challenge.”

The Gabba completed its last renovation in 2005, lifting its capacity to 42,000, but it has since been upstaged by costly refurbishments at the 48,000-seat SCG and the 52,000-seat Adelaide Oval.

Gabba venue manager Blair Conaghan said the stadium would start a “master planning exercise” to map out spending priorities in coming years.

“This will take a long-term view of how the venue associates with development in the wider precinct,” Conaghan said.

“Traditionally the Gabba Test is the first of the summer and I am sure that is a tradition Queensland cricket will want to maintain.”