Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle is willing to join forces with football to drive a redevelopment of the ageing Ballymore Stadium.
The push is on for a new boutique rectangular venue in Brisbane as part of Football Federation Australia’s bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
It could tie in nicely with a much-needed facelift for Ballymore, the traditional home of Queensland rugby, which has fallen into disrepair.
Old, decaying and a financial drain on the Queensland Rugby Union, the 18,000-seat Ballymore is no longer fit to host professional sport – and aside from Suncorp Stadium, there is no other rectangular venue in Brisbane that is.
A packed Perry Park crowd at Brisbane Roar’s W-League semi-final on Sunday further underlined the city’s glaring need for a mid-range option.
An upgraded Ballymore – where the Roar train – could host future W-League fixtures as well as an A-League expansion franchise, Super Rugby, NRC, Super W and other events.
Some of the Roar’s lower-drawing men’s matches could also be moved there from Suncorp.
Castle said she was open to the idea of an alliance with football, which would present a much stronger case for funding to the Queensland government than one sport going it alone.
She said leaving Ballymore, one of the most prized assets in Australian rugby, in its present condition was “not an option”.
“It’s incredibly important to rugby. It needs some love and attention,” Castle told AAP.
“We’ll certainly be talking about that to the government.
“There’s some really successful models that I’ve seen where codes come together and share a facility.
“That means we end up with a much better outcome for everyone involved – the government feel more comfortable, both (sports) end up with a world-class facility.
“Those are definitely the conversations we should be having.”
Suncorp, at 52,500 seats, is probably oversized for most Women’s World Cup games aside from those involving the Matildas.
But if it were included in the bid, nowhere else in Brisbane is suitable to house the NRL, State of Origin or Super Rugby during the June-July tournament.
A smaller alternative would also be perfect for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which Rugby Australia is pitching to host in 2021.