Brisbane Racing Club’s attempts to revive the long-shuttered Stafford Bowls Club have hit another hurdle after almost 1000 people signed a petition asking Brisbane City Council to return the site to the community.
Brisbane Racing Club’s plans to revitalise it into a $7.5-million community hub are now on hold. In 2018, Crushers, operating as Brothers Grange Community Sports Club, won the tender for the site which shut in 2016, lodging an application with council to refurbish and extend the Stafford Bowls Club building. The plan included retaining the two bowling greens, converting one to a synthetic surface so it could also be used for other purposes. The plans also included alfresco dining, a sports bar and cafe, room for 78 gaming machines and an extra 140sqm of floor space for the Stafford Road site.
Crushers then said it couldn’t complete the project and decided to not go ahead with its own investment plan due, in part, to the late approval of a liquor licence and the club’s gambling licence still pending. Brisbane City Council then approved the transfer of the bowls club lease from Crushers Leagues Club to Brisbane Racing Club after Crushers.
When the lease was transferred to the BRC, it was not subject to a tender process which has raised the ire of locals who have called for council to take back the site.
The Stafford Hub Not Racing Club residents group has also requested a “fair and transparent process to determine the future of the facility and to ensure it aligned with the values and goals of the Stafford community”. The group also raised concerns about more poker machines in the suburb.
The ABC reported Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner as saying there were “a whole lot of mistruths going around” about the bowls club management.
BRC indicated it would spend $7.5 million improving the site, which had not been used since 2016, and grant $200,000 a year to the local community as part of the deal.
BRC would also provide support to the Gibson Park Committee which includes Stafford District Cricket Club, Padua College and Brothers Junior Rugby League Football Club.
Brisbane Racing Club has been approached for comment.