As expected, the Gold Coast City
Council yesterday voted unanimously to go with Robina as the site for the new
$100 million stadium that will host the Coast’s NRL expansion team from 2007, though the stadium itself won’t be ready until
2008.

However, Robina Land Corporation
continued to play hardball on the purchase price yesterday, which is believed to
be around $16.9 million, while the council was hoping to strike an offer much
closer to $15 million. The new stadium will accommodate 20,000 spectators
and should have
parking for around 3,000 cars – including nearby railway station parking.

While a rival site at Nerang was
considered, it was always a distant second and primarily served as leverage
against being held to ransom by the private RLC which originally wanted $20
million set against the council’s own valuation of $10.1 million.

In the UK and other markets
including the US, developers fall over themselves to offer land gratis to
attract a national sporting franchise in a major team sport because of all the
residual commercial benefits that flow on from having a team as a magnet to
attract additional development and further elevate land values. But the RLC could always feel
confident it had the council over a barrel.

“At the end of the day there is
no doubt everyone stands to benefit from this deal, and while it was a bit more
than we would have liked to have paid, it still a very good deal for the city,”
Mayor Clarke told Crikey today. “We
can now get on with the business of having a fantastic new stadium that is also
open to hosting other major sport or events, and it’s certainly not out of the
ballpark when compared with the other bids we were looking at from other
developers.”

Peter Fray

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