2032 Brisbane Olympic Games an opportunity to deliver a winning urban future

In the midst of a pandemic, the Queensland State Government made a successful bid to bring the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Brisbane.

It was perhaps one of the least contested bids in recent history, given the context of the time, however, the attraction of the Games is considered an enormous economic boost to the State and an opportunity to deliver much needed infrastructure and amenity to the community.

It is an opportunity that is being embraced by the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk, who is also the new Minister for Olympics.

“Over the next twenty years, Brisbane 2032 is forecast to generate economic and social benefits of $8.1 billion for Queensland and $17.6 billion for Australia,” Premier Palaszczuk said.

“It will support approximately 91,600 job years in Queensland and 122,900 job years across the nation. This provides the certainty and confidence needed to trigger increased investment and unlock innovation.

“A huge 10-year pipeline of development is being accelerated so we can take advantage of the new and upgraded infrastructure before 2032.”

The Gabba
The Gabba. Image courtesy of Populous.

Given Queensland’s growing population, particularly in the South East regions, the Premier believes that the new infrastructure and investment will help meet that increased demand.

While the potential for economic growth and development is significant, the funding outlay is equally as significant.

“All three levels of government are committed to the ongoing improvements to infrastructure and services,” Premier Palaszczuk said.

“It helps that the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) New Norm reforms reduce the cost of hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

In 2018, the IOC introduced the “New Norm” for candidate cities bidding to host the Olympics from 2024 onwards, with 118 reforms to “re-imagine” how they deliver the event.

At the core of these reforms is an aim to cut costs and risk by introducing more flexibility and efficiency and thereby producing a more sustainable legacy for host cities.

Reforms include the relaxation of IOC requirements for each sport to need its own venue, so that venues can be used for multiple sports, meaning less new infrastructure is required.

Athletes will also be able to fly in for their event and then leave, rather than staying for the duration of the Games. This takes some of the pressure off the size of the athletes’ village needed.

The IOC will now also allow the use of temporary venues for the Olympics.

Where previously everything was purpose-built, temporary venues can now be constructed and dismantled after the event. Alternatively, a host city may temporarily adapt existing venues in order to keep the costs of building new venues to a minimum.

“This aligns with Brisbane 2032 plans to optimise the use of existing facilities, with 84% of venues existing or temporary. There will be no post-Games ‘white elephant’ infrastructure,” the Premier said.

Avoiding a ‘white elephant’

While the attraction of a world-class sporting event promotes excitement for many, there are potential pitfalls in relation to how the new or upgraded infrastructure and facilities can be adapted or reused.

There are some glaring examples of what the Premier refers to as ‘white elephant’ infrastructure following the Olympic Games in locations such as Athens, Sochi and Rio de Janeiro, however, there are also examples of host cities that have had long-term success with adapting and retrofitting venues and other infrastructure built for the games.

Back in 1992, Barcelona was transformed by the new marina and over three kilometres of beachfront that was developed for the Games that also now includes a local subway station.

In Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park is now a 21-acre park in downtown Atlanta that was previously full of vacant industrial buildings. Now, it is a thriving part of downtown that plays host to live music and festivals as well as a popular water play space.

Sydneysiders legacy

Closer to home, Sydney Olympic Park is now home to over 5,000 events annually and plays host to over 10 million people each year.

Leon Walker, CEO of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority says that the Sydney Olympic Park development has established a legacy that provides significant ongoing benefits for Sydneysiders and visitors to the Park.

“The first is a purpose-built events precinct with world-class sporting and event infrastructure. It is now the home to over 50 sporting organisations, creating a unique sporting community,” Mr Walker said.

“Since the Olympic Games, the Park has attracted well over $3 billion in post-Games investment, the overwhelming majority of which is private sector investment establishing a mix of uses including commercial, residential and recreation.

“The second legacy of the Park is environmental. Whilst in its day seen as innovative, the park now features green and blue assets and biodiversity that are seen as the benchmark for modern, acceptable development and land use.

“The remediation of the Sydney Olympic Park site created 430 hectares of parklands and waterways, with diverse flora and fauna of environmental significance.

“The Olympic Games didn’t just enable the biggest remediation project in Australia at that time, it was the largest investment in sustainable infrastructure ever seen and the first-time sustainability principles were centrally integrated into the built environment in Australia.”

Importantly, the Games were the catalyst for the establishment of a new community in the geographic heart of Sydney.

“Sydney Olympic Park is playing a significant role in the Central River City’s transformation from a suburban to an urban environment,” Mr Walker said.

“Over the next 10 years, Sydney Olympic Park is forecast to provide 10,700 homes for 23,500 residents, 34,000 diverse jobs, tertiary education sites and local parks and an additional 100,000 square metres of retail space. Sydney Olympic Park will become the true heart of Sydney, not just its geographic centre.

London East transformed

Another example of adaptive reuse of Olympic infrastructure is following the London 2012 Games.

The Games were seen as an opportunity to accelerate the regeneration of a 560-acre site in East London and create a lasting positive impact for future generations.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is now a vibrant centrepiece of East London.

Following the Games, the Park underwent a transformation into a destination with brand-new parklands and playgrounds for local, regional, national and international visitors, two new business districts and five new housing neighbourhoods.

In particular, Here East, which is located in the former Press and Broadcast Centres, is a dedicated innovation campus that was established in 2016.

Over 4,000 people work on the campus which includes global businesses, universities, research institutes and creative institutions.

Brisbane’s bright future

Looking at what the future holds for Brisbane and South East Queensland, Premier Palaszczuk is focused on the benefits of the 2032 Olympics for Queenslanders in a range of spheres across the community.

“Brisbane 2032 is a platform to accelerate and amplify everything from healthy and active community initiatives to arts and culture, sustainability initiatives, tourism, trade, and local business opportunities,” Premier Palaszczuk said.

“It will expedite housing development with the Brisbane Athlete Village at the Northshore Hamilton Priority Development Area (PDA) providing significant residential, retail and commercial opportunities.

“This entire 304-hectare Northshore PDA site will eventually accommodate up to 14,000 dwellings.

“The Brisbane Athlete Village, with approximately 1,750 dwellings, including social, retirement, key worker, and build-to-rent accommodation, hotel stock and market housing, represents a small portion of the total dwellings to be delivered within the PDA,” Premier Palaszczuk said.

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Brisbane Athlete Village at Northshore. Credit: Queensland Government.

Along with the opportunity for new housing, the Olympics will accelerate improved transport infrastructure with transport-related sustainability initiatives for Brisbane 2032 including targeting 90% public and active transport to venues during the Games.

The largest infrastructure project in Queensland – the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail – will be completed in 2024 and will aim to contribute to the commitment to a climate-positive Games.

The Premier is determined that the Brisbane 2032 Games is seen as a long-term, sustainable success for the State.

“Our focus is not on a few weeks of sporting excellence, but a much bigger picture,” Premier Palaszczuk said.

“We are driven by a decade of investment which will cement Queensland’s long-term statewide and regional priorities for the next 20 years and beyond.”

Article source: Queensland Property Investor

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