A funding pledge from Queensland Premier Campbell Newman on the proposed new sports and entertainment precinct in Townsville represents a huge step forward for plans for a new home ground for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, according to Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain.
Premier Newman pledged $150 million in funding towards the total cost of the $210 million project should his government be re-elected at the upcoming Queensland state election. The Stadium and Entertainment Centre would become the new home of the Cowboys who are currently domiciled at 1300SMILES Stadium, some 17 kilometres out of the city centre.
Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston has been one of the most high-profile advocates of the new development and Jourdain said that support for the project from both sides of parliament is vital for the long-term future of the Cowboys. The unilateral political support for the move was also welcomed by the NRL.
"This is great news for our club and gives us tremendous hope that this project will be completed in the not-too-distant future," Jourdain said.
"It's especially gratifying that we now have bipartisan support for the proposed stadium, which is part of wider urban renewal plans for inner-city Townsville.
"There's no doubt that turning these ideas into reality is very important for the future of the Cowboys, the city and North Queensland as a whole as the Premier outlined [on Wednesday].
"We look forward to continuing to work closely with the various stakeholders in the proposal and highlighting the value this new precinct will bring."
NRL CEO Dave Smith toured the proposed Ross Creek site in September and said the new complex would be a boon not just for the Cowboys but the entire Townsville community.
"The NRL has pushed strongly for a new stadium in Townsville," he said.
"It is a great initiative for Townsville which will generate jobs, breathe life into the precinct and provide the city with a world class sporting facility.
"It also means the Cowboys will have one of the best stadiums in the NRL and this can only encourage more fans to watch their team live at the ground."
Mr Smith said the NRL would continue to hold discussions with the State, Federal and Local Governments on the best ways to progress the stadium project.