'Let's do it': Big giver backs stadium upgrade
EXCLUSIVE: The region's most generous benefactor has declared he'll support a Sunshine Coast Stadium redevelopment in a bid to fast-track its upgrade.
Roy Thompson told the Daily he would back a major revamp of the region's top sporting facility and wanted it built in the next two years.
Mr Thompson, whose donations along with wife Nola to local causes over the past few years total in the tens of millions of dollars, said the region needed a redeveloped 15,000-20,000-seat capacity stadium, to attract major sports and entertainers.
He was even eyeing off the Olympics.
He said it was no good redeveloping the facility in "bits and pieces".
"Let's do the whole bloody lot," he said.
The former publican and property developer made his fortune on the Coast in hotels and housing.
Now in his late-80s, Mr Thompson and his wife had been prolific philanthropists, donating significantly to the University of the Sunshine Coast and medical research facilities.
"I'm trying to do something (with the stadium) but it's got to be sensible," Mr Thompson said.
He thought a 25,000-seat capacity venue was "a bit much", but an upgrade that delivered at least 15,000 seats straight off, up to 20,000 in total, would be ideal for the region.
"If Brisbane get the Olympic Games they will need this stadium," he said.
"But we need to get it built in one hit."
His motivation was to try and lure more national sporting teams to the region, in light of the success of the recent NRL game and the hype around Sir Elton John's tour.
Would a 20,000-seat venue be good for the Sunshine Coast?
Mr Thompson said he'd love a Sydney team, preferably the Rabbitohs, to relocate to the Coast and play out of an upgraded Sunshine Coast Stadium, provided there was enough local investment to make it happen.
He wanted four sides of the stadium developed with covered grandstands.
"I think it will happen," Mr Thompson said.
"I'll help as much as I can.
"It depends on the public in general. We're a backwood block at the moment, the Coast needs something to kick it on."
Mr Thompson said he'd had discussions with the council and other stakeholders about the prospect of a stadium redevelopment worth about $125 million.
He said if that could be scaled down to about $70 million - $80 million, he would help support it financially.
"Sport is a great thing to bring people together," he said.
"I would say two years. If we can't get it in two years there's something wrong.
"Bring yourself down to Earth (on costs) and we can bloody do it."
The Sports Hub Sunshine Coast manager Kevin Cook said an upgraded stadium would boost the events market and was a logical step in any bid to secure a national football team.
He saw it as a critical step in the facility's future, and said it opened the door for an Olympic bid to become reality, as well as international events like Rugby Sevens.
"It's wide open," Mr Cook said.