PLANS for a 20,000 seat stadium at North Ipswich Reserve have been unveiled by Palmer United Party candidate for Blair Anthony Stanton.
Mr Stanton told the QT that, if it won government, Clive Palmer's party would fund a multi-use venue similar to Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast that would "provide a centrepiece of regional sport".
"The stadium should be configured to suit multiple sports but obvious users would include the Western Corridor NRL Bid team, Ipswich Jets and local rugby league," he said.
"METRICON Stadium cost $144 million and it was a combination from all three levels of government and a fair bit of private money as well.
"The key to funding this sort of development is that you need a sizeable initial contribution by a party that gives it instant credibility...and the Federal Government fits the bill. I'd like to see an initial contribution of about $50 million. The stadium would incorporate some office and training facilities in addition to seating 20,000 to 25,000…and it would be fully covered.
"This is not just about sport. It's about forging a regional identity...and it's about jobs and confidence and a sense of belonging that will build a stronger and more prosperous future for us all."
Western Corridor NRL bid boss Steve Johnson, who is also Ipswich Jets chairman, confirmed the NRL side would play out of Suncorp Stadium if accepted into the NRL but added that "at some point in time Ipswich deserves a correctly sized state-of-the art playing and training facility".
"We'd welcome any facility in Ipswich that benefits our young people, and if there is a stadium built in Ipswich it will benefit other sports than just rugby league," Mr Johnson said.
"It is wonderful that Anthony has this vision and it is a wonderful vision for our city. We don't support any party, but it is great that the conversation has started.
"Ipswich is bigger than some of the regional centres in Queensland like Mackay that have been given stadiums. When you look at affordability to the state and sustainability of the game, common sense dictates that we play our games at Suncorp for the first five to 10 years.
"But (demographer) Bernard Salt is independent and if people like him and government analysts are correct, then after that people will be crying out for games to be played inside the city."
Mr Johnson also pointed to the variety of benefits of being able to host NRL games in Ipswich in the lead-up to any expansion of the competition.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said any stadium would be "contingent on the successful bidding of the Western Corridor".
"The idea of a fully fledged stadium at North Ipswich Reserve would have to be looked at in the context of the overall planning for the area," he said
Mr Neumann said initial projects that needed to be funded included "upgrading the administration block (at the reserve) and the completion of the Norman St bridge".
"I am very open if the Ipswich City Council wants to see me, to fight for funding for a full upgrade of the North Ipswich Reserve."
North Ipswich Reserve is owned and managed by Ipswich City Council as a community facility
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the proposed stadium was "a great idea in the medium to long term".
"Anything that Clive wants to throw in our direction, we'll take," he said.
But Cr Pisasale said "a cultural centre and Norman St bridge needs to come first. If he throws all those things in as part of the package I'll be happy."
LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding said she would "welcome any investment here in Ipswich".
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