The bidding war for Australia’s biggest ever boxing event is underway with Brisbane the early frontrunner to host Jeff Horn’s blockbuster fight with Manny Pacquiao.
But Queensland tourism and major events minister Kane Jones has warned the state government will only underwrite the historic bout as long as it provides enough value for the multi-million dollar outlay.
Horn’s promoters Duco Events have brokered a deal with Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum – arguably the sport’s most powerful figure – to stage the fight in Australia on Sunday, April 23.
Suncorp Stadium is the sentimental favourite and the iconic 52,500-seat venue would represent a dream outcome for Horn, a 28-year-old former schoolteacher and diehard rugby league fan.
Duco will shortly begin talks with potential sponsors while the NSW, South Australian and Victorian governments are also expected to express interest in acquiring hosting rights.
If the money can’t be raised in Australia, it could be moved to the United States or United Arab Emirates.
Ms Jones said there had been no formal approach to Queensland yet but they’re more than happy to talk.
“Suncorp Stadium is one of the best outdoor sporting venues in the country so I think Queensland would be at an advantage compared to other states,” Jones said.
“There isn’t a bad seat at Suncorp so we’ve got a real home advantage in having such a great stadium here that would be the perfect place to hold a fight of this magnitude.
“Like any deal, we always have to look at value for money for taxpayers.”
Duco was unable on Wednesday to confirm the total funding figure they are seeking, but it’s believed to be in excess of $5 million.
Suncorp Stadium management, meanwhile, are confident they can accommodate the fight and a possible A-League final involving the Brisbane Roar if both eventuate.
The first week of the A-League finals is on the same weekend and the night of Friday, April 21 would seem to be the only option should the Roar finish either third or fourth and earn the right to play their elimination final at home, and if the bout goes ahead.
Football Federation Australia has the stadium pre-booked on April 21-22.
Suncorp Stadium CEO Alan Graham admitted it would take careful and precise planning but said it was capable of staging both events.
“Obviously it’s something we’ve got to work through, but there’s always plenty of ways around these things,” Graham told AAP.