Remember when you could go see a major music performance in Brisbane city and do a post-midnight stagger up to the Victory afterwards? No? That’s because Festival Hall, the CBD’s major indoor music venue, shut its doors way back in 2003.
These days, if you want to see a big ticket international musician, you’re either tapping your watch on the 10pm curfew at Riverstage, or slumming it out to the Entertainment Centre (or, God help you, Eatons Hill Hotel).
That could change, though, with Brisbane Live – a $2 billion project that would redevelop the Roma Street train yards into a state-of-the-art entertainment precinct. The proposal from venue operator AEG Ogden would include a $450 million, 17,000-seat arena.
The project has been in development for a year now. Late last month AEG Ogden representatives updated Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Treasurer Curtis Pitt on its progress. “The meeting … was very constructive and we have agreed to continue exploring options for progressing the concept including financing options,” Pitt told the Brisbane Times.
“It was a chance to update the government on the significant progress we have made so far,” AEG Ogden chairman Harvey Lister said in the same story. “We have engaged specialised property and investment firm JLL to undertake further work on funding options and economic impacts.”
Modelled on AEG’s own LA Live near downtown Los Angeles (which includes the 20,000 seat Staples Center), the project would aim to transform a relatively forgotten part of the city into an entertainment, lifestyle and sports hub, with Brisbane Live arena as the centrepiece. A 90-storey residential tower and corresponding hotel, as well as 12 hectares of public space adjoining the existing Roma Street Parklands, could also be given the go-ahead.
Brisbane doesn’t lack for quality live music venues. The Tivoli, The Triffid and The Zoo provide plenty of options for mid-tier touring artists. But Brisbane Live would likely bring big ticket performances – such as the recent Hans Zimmer concert – back into the city.
The project has the support of the Brisbane City Council and has been advancing under the Labor state government's market-led-proposal scheme, which encourages private companies to pitch ideas for state-owned land rather than it going out to tender.
AEG Ogden plans to meet again with the government in a few months once further research into funding options and economic impacts is complete. If given final approval, the company hopes to complete construction of the precinct as early as 2021.