Gold Coast Stadium push begins,
then it's half-time

They have finally met with the land owners, and a consultant has been hired.

However, the site of the Gold Coast's new stadium still won't be known until July 19, as councillors are going on holidays for two weeks.

Council officers yesterday met with the Robina Land Corporation, the owners of the preferred site, for the first time.

While the issues of transport, accessibility, position of the stadium and other logistics were discussed, the cost of the land did not come up.

Chief executive officer Dale Dickson said the council would meet with RLC again next week to discuss the price of the land, adjacent to the Robina railway station. It's unlikely to come cheap.

Mayor Ron Clarke expressed concern that with all the hype about the Robina site, the price of the land could be pushed up. "That has to be a concern," he said. "It doesn't help with people saying Robina is the only spot, because it's not having Carrara puts us in a strong position to negotiate."

He also expressed concern that RLC was not entirely enth-usiastic about the stadium option.

"That's how they (council officers) interpreted their body language ... it could be a negotiation tactic."

RLC chief executive Richard Wyatt said discussions were positive, but hinted council would have to dig deep.

"Council needs to recognise this is a medium to high dens-ity commercial site," he said.

"This is prime real estate, it's not a green-field site in the middle of nowhere."

Also yesterday, Mr Dickson revealed that the council had hired consultant HOK Sport, a stadium specialist involved in the redevelopment of both Suncorp and Wembley, to assess each of the five sites under consideration.

As well as the RLC site, other land at Robina, Coomera and Reedy Creek, as well as the existing Carrara stadium, are being looked into.

The consultant's recommendation will cost the council about $25,000 and will be debated on July 12, after the council's two-week, mid-year recess.

Yesterday's action came after a storm of protest from the community, with sporting and business leaders concerned the council was dragging its heels on the issue.

However, Cr Clarke and Mr Dickson moved to defend the council and claimed they were not being 'idle'.

They said the stadium was on top of the council's agenda.

Mr Dickson said that the council was given no advance warning that the State Government was going to offer to build a stadium and it had not planned for that contingency.

"Until two weeks ago, we were going to have to do it ourselves," he said. "Once we were advised of the offer, council acted at once."

He said officers had to meet with the Major Sports Facility Authority to discuss issues such as stadium dimension, before talking to potential land owners.

"It is an absolute priority, don't let there be any misconception about that," he said.

Cr Clarke said the State Government would have more than two years to build the stadium, which was 'plenty of time'.

Treasurer Terry Mackenroth last week urged the council to make its decision quickly, saying it could do better than July.

However, Cr Clarke said he saw Mr Mackenroth at a function on Friday night, and said the Treasurer was 'quite relaxed' about the council's timeframes.

"He said he just wanted to be certain the council isn't going to sleep out there," he said.

Thanks to the Gold Coast Bulletin for another great article.