The AFL’s newest club, the Gold Coast Suns will play their first home match at their new Gold Coast Stadium under lights on Saturday 28 May 2011.
Premier Anna Bligh inspected progress on the stadium today with AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke and Gold Coast Suns Chairman, John Witheriff.
Ms Bligh said the managing contractors have advised that the 25,000 seat stadium remains on time and on budget.
“Given this they’ve provided a completion timeframe which allows the AFL to schedule their 2011 season,” she said.
“This is an exciting time for Gold Coast and South East Queensland sports fans. The introduction of the Suns means there will be twice as many matches played in SEQ next season which is terrific for sports fans and the local economy and I’m looking forward to the first siren in May next year.”
Ms Bligh said Stadiums Queensland venues already kick some $308 million into the economy each season and the opening of this venue will increase that amount and provide jobs at the football club and stadium well into the future.
“And this redevelopment is providing employment for 1,100 workers which includes the 50 apprentices and trainees who are currently working onsite.”
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said the first official Toyota 2011 Premiership Season match to be played by the SUNS would take place under lights in Round 10.
“We are still working through the fixture process but the opponent for the Gold Coast Suns will be a high-drawing Victorian team – likely to be Collingwood, Essendon, Geelong, Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs or St Kilda,” he said.
“Everyone’s looking forward to the first bounce – to have the vision and support of the Queensland Government, the Federal Government and Gold Coast City Council has ensured that this will be one of the country’s best boutique sporting stadiums.”
Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke said the announcement of the first Suns home game as well as the signing of AFL superstar Gary Ablett meant both the Suns and the construction of their home stadium were gathering momentum.
“It has been a very exciting couple of weeks for the city and it is fantastic to see the stadium really taking shape now,” Mr Clarke said.
“Our city is passionate about its sports teams and I know everyone will get behind its very own AFL franchise next year. The stadium will be an important new community asset and driving past it, even in its partially completed state, should make Gold Coasters feel proud.”
Chairman of the Gold Coast Suns John Witheriff, said he was excited for the community now that the opening game was set.
“We have spent a lot of time working on the fundamental values of this Club – when we built our plans for the club, we were focussed on the benefits elite sporting teams can bring to their community through participation, leisure, tourism and pride in our region,” he said.
“At every stage of what is now the Gold Coast Suns, I’ve been amazed at the interest and support for the people of the Gold Coast for us to succeed.
“The 28th May will be a real celebration for our members, our corporate partners and sports fans on the Coast.
“I’m also very excited for our staff, the coaching team and players – the first game in our own stadium will mark a very big milestone for our young Club.”
Ms Bligh said the stadium would benefit the Gold Coast well into the future.
“Our commitment to build this stadium also means the Gold Coast is in the box seat to bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and has also been nominated as a potential venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” she said.
The stadium, constructed by Queensland construction firm, Watpac, continues at pace. Roof trusses and shade fabric have been installed throughout the east with progress on the west well advanced. The southern stand bowl is almost complete with only four bays of the upper tier remaining. The installation of solar panelling is scheduled to begin next week.