When the world’s athletes walked into Sydney’s Olympic stadium, they were greeted by about 110,000 people in the stands. At the much smaller Gabba in 2032, organisers say, there could be millions. Well, sort of.
Queensland Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport director-general John Lee spoke recently at the Sports Tech World Series conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The startling claim, from the floor of the Sports Tech World Series conference in Brisbane, came from Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee executive director Brendan Keane. He had been spotted in the crowd by Queensland Sport Department director-general John Lee and called on to tell the audience how many people would be at the opening ceremony. While there were about 110,000 physically inside Sydney’s Olympic stadium for the 2000 Olympic opening ceremony, the rebuilt Gabba would hold fewer than half that number. But Lee said new technology could allow people from across the globe to feel like they were there in Woolloongabba.
Lee cited Real Madrid’s famous Bernabeu stadium, which he had recently visited, as a possible template for the rebuilt Gabba. “They’re actually setting up permanent cameras — I think they’ve got 200,000 members in Madrid — and then they’re going to offer an augmented viewing membership through goggles, and they’re going to send them to their international members,” he said. “People are going to bid for those goggles and then you’re going to be able to choose whether you want to sit behind the goals to watch from your own home. “You might want the drone view, or the [club] president’s 50-metre view.” Lee said he was also “blown away” by the Bernabeu’s removable pitch, which would be stored underground and increase potential event nights at the 85,000-capacity stadium from about 100 a year to 250.
“Sports tech is not just on-field sport. I was quite taken that, when you see the sort of utilities and expertise in engineering that has been brought in there in the Bernabeu, it is just mind-boggling,” he said. “What will we have for Brisbane? That’s the question for all of us.” It was a certainly a question for Stadiums Queensland tech services general manager Ange Henderson, who said emerging technology would be integral in any design work for various Brisbane Olympic venues. “We’re trying to think about how we make our technology integrated into the design from the get go,” she said. “We have to be flexible enough with what we include to not be designing something, for 2032, to a 2022 standard.” Henderson said some upgrades would come much earlier than others. Next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup had fast-tracked improvements to Suncorp Stadium, such as high-density Wi-Fi, digital messaging and improvements to food and beverage options. “The fantastic thing about getting a big event for like a FIFA Women’s World Cup, or an Olympic and Paralympic Games, is the investment that you get in the venues that then go to support those events,” she said. “... Suncorp is still a wonderful venue — the best rectangular venue in Australia, we’d have to say — but it was 2003 when it opened its doors, so it is starting to age. “It’s almost 20 years old, so we need to retrofit all this stuff into the venue.”
Lee said Brisbane 2032 would be a very different Games to Sydney 2000 and London 2012, which were both “urban redevelopment Games”. “They were about disused areas that needed to be built into precincts and then they had mega events all in one place,” he said. “On ‘super Saturday’, and I’m trying to remember then the actual hard numbers that we bumped in to the Homebush precinct, but it was in the order of 1.2 million humans in one day. “So we had to build the rail network and the capacity of pedestrianisation, which is why when you go to Homebush it still feels like a big open space.” Lee will finish up in his current role this month, before moving to be with his family in Sydney.
SOURCE: Brisbane Times