Media Release: Riverway Stadium lighting upgrade to lure national broadcast night fixtures to Townsville under Phillip Thompson commitment

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14th May 2022

Riverway Stadium lighting upgrade to lure national broadcast night fixtures to Townsville under Phillip Thompson commitment

Riverway Stadium could play host to regular Big Bash League cricket and Australian Football League matches under an election commitment made by Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson. 

A re-elected Coalition Government would provide up to $5-million in federal funding to upgrade the lights at the city’s premier sporting oval to a standard high enough for the broadcast of national sporting fixtures.

It comes at a time Cricket Australia is looking for additional facilities to host major competitions while the Gabba is closed for redevelopment for the 2032 Olympics.

Phillip Thompson said the project had been a political football for many years, but locals consistently raised it as something that should be done to boost local sport and the economy. 

“Townsville has one of Australia’s best sporting facilities in Riverway Stadium, and this is the investment it needs to really get the national attention it deserves,” Mr Thompson said.

“I’ve listened to the community, I’ve listened to local sporting clubs, and they’ve said very clearly that getting national broadcast Cricket and AFL is something they want and our city needs – and so a re-elected Coalition Government will make this major investment.

“We’ve been missing out on millions of dollars that could’ve been injected into our local economy for too long, through losing these kinds of AFL and Cricket games to Cairns and Mackay. Just two weeks ago Cairns hosted an AFL Premiership fixture and earlier this year, the AFLW was played in Mackay.  

“Meanwhile the Cricket will be looking for alternate venues with the Gabba out of action for redevelopment ahead of the 2032 Olympics.”

The proposal to upgrade lighting at Riverway has been identified by Cricket Australia, Queensland Cricket and AFL Queensland as priorities for the regional growth of their games, and will also benefit the local cricket and Aussie Rules clubs that use the facility.

Queensland Cricket and Brisbane Heat CEO Terry Svenson said they believed the estimated cost of the project was around $6 million.

“Broadcast quality lighting would enable Cricket Australia and Queensland Cricket to play elite cricket at the venue,” he said.

“This would be a huge boost to not just the local game but our national and international competitions, and we can’t wait to bring more blockbuster games to Townsville. 

“We’ve successfully staged Sheffield Shield and One Day matches in recent seasons and received excellent local support from everyone involved to do this.

“We recognise that kids seeing their heroes inspires a life-long love of the game and provides us with the opportunity to give opportunities to boys and girls all over Queensland to play cricket.”

Thuringowa Bulldogs President Ben Payne said the project would be a huge boost for grass-roots participation in Aussie Rules football.

“Our members would love nothing more than to see their favourite AFL team and players in their home city at Riverway Stadium,” he said. 

“This would be a massive deal for the sport locally and we’re really grateful to Phil Thompson for his advocacy for this lighting upgrade.” 

Phillip Thompson said he looked forward to working with Townsville Council to make the project a reality, after being in the too-hard basket for too long.

“Council has said that a lighting upgrade at Riverway would need significant federal or state government investment, so it’s great that with the support of the community we’ve been able to secure this funding commitment from a re-elected Coalition Government,” he said.

A re-elected Coalition Government will also provide up to $700,000 for lighting at the Northern Beaches SUNS AFL home ground, The Green in Burdell, as well as $700,000 for the home of Townsville Baseball, Jabiru Park in Condon.

ENDS

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