National Rugby Training Centre
Construction began on the $30m National Rugby Training Centre and new McLean Stand in March 2022. The project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments, and the Queensland Rugby Union and will be the new national headquarters of Women’s Rugby and of the national Wallaroos side, as well as a new home for the Queensland Reds men’s and women’s teams. The NRTC will be one of the best high-performance centres in the country, with a 750m2 gym – the biggest sports team gym in Queensland - aquatic recovery and sauna, and a 75-seat auditorium for team meetings and community rugby education. Both women’s and men’s programs will have similar facilities, with special access for female athletes to aquatic recovery and other shared areas. The centre has been designed to accommodate three programs at the same time and will also house the administration for the QRU and Rugby Australia’s women’s and referees programs.
The new McLean Stand, which is integrated into the NRTC building, will have a 3010-seat capacity -slightly more than the old stand it replaces - including corporate and function facilities which double as meeting rooms during normal operation. These function spaces will be available for public hire, with a new 120-person capacity Murrayfield Room overlooking Ballymore No.1 Field. The construction tender was won by Buildcorp after a highly competitive process. Buildcorp has a long history of supporting rugby in Australia and we are very excited to see them bring this project to completion. The QRU has appointed a Heritage Committee of Life Members, historians and rugby writers to ensure the rich history of Ballymore is properly reflected in the new building and wider precinct.
The masterplan – approved by the State Government in January – is a true game-changer for rugby in Queensland. It includes three new buildings which can be used for sport and recreation, sports administration or allied health and sports medicine. These proposed buildings are to the rear of the NRTC, on the site of the existing gym shed on Clyde Rd and to the rear of the Southern Hill. The masterplan also allows for the construction of a swim school in the south-east of the precinct. The QRU is in negotiations with potential swim school operators for an anticipated opening in mid to late 2023. Ballymore will also become home to the newest Olympic sport, with a world-class sports climbing centre approved on the rear of the 25m-high Eastern Stand. The QRU is in exclusive negotiations with a potential operator. This proposed centre would become the only Olympic-standard sports climbing centre in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting some elite athletes from Australia and around the world during the icy Northern Hemisphere winter.
The new Ballymore will provide more accessible green spaces for the community, with enhanced park areas and pedestrian access. The masterplan allows the construction by Brisbane City Council of a boardwalk bike path along the southern bank of Enoggera Creek, creating a 4-5km running loop around Ballymore and the Newmarket Sports Precinct across the creek. Council is also planning the construction of a footbridge at the end of Clyde Rd on the western edge of Ballymore, which will link the precinct with Newmarket. The QRU is also working with Council to create new community-accessible fitness stations and barbeques within Ballymore.
Ballymore’s central location and boutique size makes it perfect as a new home for women’s rectangular sport – rugby, rugby league and football - in south-east Queensland. The NRTC and new McLean Stand are an essential first step to achieving this dream. The Eastern Stand still requires significant investment if the stadium is to be used for major events once more, and he QRU is focused on bringing this stand back to standard.
Ballymore has been earmarked by the State Government as a venue for hockey during the 2032 Olympics. This would entail temporary artificial pitches being paid over the turf fields, with the fields being restored afterwards at the Olympic’s expense. There is precendent for this, with the Harlequins Rugby Club’s home ground The Stoop, in Twickenham, being used as a temporary hockey venue for the 2012 Olympics. There’s still a long way to go, but as a 10-15,000 capacity stadium in the inner city, we are confident Ballymore will be an Olympics venue in some respect.