The name of Brisbane’s iconic Gabba ground is up for sale — for $2 million a year — with a historic proposal hoped to inject millions of dollars into desperately needed upgrades for the ageing venue.
The Sunday-Mail understands selling the Gabba naming rights, which would drastically change the Brisbane sporting landscape, is one of the key proposals of 19 recommendations contained in the Lee Report into Stadiums Queensland, to be presented to the State Government this month.
The SQ board has already been sacked as the Government attempts to bring a new commercial focus to its stadiums operations.
Optus recently cut a 10-year $50m deal for naming rights to the new Perth Stadium, making it the only mainstream Test cricket venue in the country with a naming rights sponsor.
Suncorp’s deal for Brisbane’s Lang Park football stadium is worth about $3m.
It is understood the Gabba, which is officially called the Brisbane Cricket Ground and is the only major stadium in the state without a naming rights sponsor, is ranked second in the Lee Report behind Suncorp, in eight criteria including location, capacity, standard of the facilities and commercial viability.
The report, commissioned by the State Government and written by independent consultant John Lee, is believed to recommended annual upgrades, beginning with an urgent facelift that includes new turnstiles, revitalised bar areas and the installation of wi-fi.
The report also recommends reduced hiring costs for tenants, Queensland Cricket and the Brisbane Lions.
A Government spokesman today said the stadium’s nickname would be worked into any future naming rights or sponsorship agreement.
“The venue will always be known as the Gabba,” a government spokesman said. “Of course, we will look at any recommendations in the Lee Report into Stadiums Queensland.”
Lions chairman Andrew Wellington said yesterday the club was not aware of Mr Lee’s recommendations, but said it would endorse the sponsorship proposal.
Triple premiership Lions coach and AFL Legend Leigh Matthews said it had always seemed to be the logical approach to funding upgrades to the venue.
“Does the Gabba lose anything by it being named after a sponsor? It will still be the Gabba,’’ he said.
“Stadiums constantly need upgrading and it is my personal view that the logical way to fund significant improvements is through sponsorship. Say the deal is worth $2m. Well, that’s $2m annually going to waste at the moment.’’
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