Ballymore Buzz Sets World-Class Standard For Bigger Plans

Wed, Aug 23, 2023, 4:30 AM
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
Ballymore's National Rugby Training Centre at sunset
Ballymore's National Rugby Training Centre at sunset

The strong multi-use flexibility of the $31.5 million Ballymore redevelopment is winning acclaim with bigger things to come.

Queensland Rugby Union Chief Executive David Hanham said the positives since the June opening were building the powerful case for a similar makeover of the Eastern Stand.

“The functionality and spin-offs of the new facility have exceeded our expectations and we had high expectations,” Hanham said.

“We believe all levels of Government are supportive of another High-Performance Centre, with seating, being built on the eastern side of the ground and the hope is it becomes the home of Australia’s successful women’s rugby sevens program.

“The National Rugby Training Centre is a world-class facility and the first base for Australia’s women’s team, the Wallaroos.

Importantly, we are not just talking rugby but Ballymore’s place as a home for women’s rectangular sports.

There's an absolute need to cater for the exponential rise of women's sport and we are ready.

"Come 2029, the Rugby World Cup for women will be hosted by Australia as the FIFA World Cup has been so successfully in recent times."

Lead contractor Buildcorp’s ability to deliver the NRTC and 3010-seat McLean Stand redevelopment on time and on budget is already having instant benefits for two women’s sports.

The Wallaroos will utilise their training base before the September 30 clash against New Zealand’s Black Ferns in Hamilton.

In the wake of the Matildas transforming interest in women’s football, an on-time Ballymore means no lag in providing upgraded facilities for Queensland’s elite A-League women’s team.

The Brisbane Roar women are locked in to play four games at Ballymore by the end of the year.

It also means their players being able to utilise women’s change rooms, the aquatic recovery centre and sauna and the new floodlit Field 3 which was prepared as a training venue during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This is a huge plus for the State Government seeing money well spent to answer the call for more female-specific sporting facilities.

Another “win” is having the first new infrastructure in place for hockey in the blueprint for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

“This new facility is slated for use at the 2032 Olympics but the benefits are here now,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk enthused at the June opening.

Recently-retired Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry is already seeing the impressive plusses in the NRTC as coach of the Queensland Academy of Sport’s junior and senior women’s sevens teams.

“We have a world-class set-up with our own facilities all in one place,” Parry said.

“The junior girls might head into the gym or on-field after a women’s team session.

There’s great value there in sharing spaces because if those girls see it, they can believe in that pathway themselves.”

First-time visitors to the NRTC and the new headquarters of the QRU have repeatedly passed comment on the extra level of polish that Buildcorp had built into the facility based on the architectural plans of Blight Rayner.

The maroon leather and Queensland mahogany trimmings are just the big things. Even the high-level finish to the stairs in the reception area are touches that welcome all into rugby’s best high-performance centre in the country.

Ballymore will on Sunday host the Queensland Premier Rugby grand final between long-time rivals Wests and Brothers.

Getting rigged to host the biggest crowd since the re-opening is another milestone. The wider concourse at the top of the McLean Stand means extra drink stations and the lawn behind the stand will host a bar and band to enhance the fan experience.

For those who remember the aluminium or wooden seating of the old McLean Stand, there’ll be applause that the detail has even extended to comfortable seats.

Being able to return club grand finals to Ballymore for the first time since 2020 is another important milestone for the spiritual home of Queensland rugby.

“I’m living at Ballymore at present, getting full use of the recovery facilities.

It’s awesome,” said Wests leader Connor Anderson, a member of the Queensland Reds squad.

“There’s definitely a good vibe around the whole building and it’s pretty cool in general to be back at Ballymore for a grand final.”

“On time, on budget” is a big phrase in the building industry especially on a project of this scale with more than 300 tonnes of steel, over 3000 cubic metres of concrete poured, over 15,000 square metres of new turf laid and over 1200 square metres of tiles installed.

A total of 1134 workers poured 125,401 work hours into completing the game-changing project with zero LTIs (Lost Time Injuries).

For Buildcorp Managing Director Tony Sukkar, the reactions to the new Ballymore trigger a sense of pride.

“This has been an amazing re-imagining at Ballymore. Personally, it has meant a lot to deliver a home for the Wallaroos and Queensland women’s rugby,” Sukkar said.

“Through 33 years at Buildcorp and more than 30 sporting projects, may I say this is by far the best.

“So much more has been delivered.”