Despite the challenges with building in regional Queensland - especially the severe weather event, the target to reach this momentous stage by 19 December has been achieved.

Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Sport Mick de Brenni said the stadium construction was being delivered on schedule, and gave credit to the hard-working Townsville tradies and apprentices who have sweated it out onsite since July 2017.

“A project like this comes around once in a generation in regional communities and the army of North Queenslanders that have delivered this sporting monument on the Ross River can be rightly proud of what they have achieved,”

Mr de Brenni said. “Local tradies have done an outstanding job making sure it got to this stage on time and on budget, and now Stadiums Queensland will transition into its role of managing the venue on behalf of North Queenslanders.

“Just like a new home, following this stage there remains finishing touches like appliances, signage and landscaping to come before February’s huge Open Day celebrations and events.”

Minister de Brenni indicated that between now and February several announcements about stadium commissioning and operations would be made to ensure locals could make the most of a series of once-in-a-life-time opportunities.

“Ultimately though, one of the biggest milestones is still to come when our number one tenant moves in - seeing the North Queensland Cowboys walk out on that pitch for the first time will be a day for the history books.” Fast facts: Since July 2017, an equivalent of more than one in every one hundred people in Townsville has been inducted to work  - a total of 2,065 workers on site.

Tradies have been on the job for an equivalent of one person at work for 616 years or a total 1,110,374 construction hours over the course of the project. The new cutting-edge playing surface has already been mowed 12 times and is expected to be trimmed ready for installation in January.

Federal Member for Herbert, Phillip Thompson said whilst 2019 had been a difficult year for many local residents it was a step in the right direction to see all levels of government working together for the benefit of the City. “It’s been a tough year for many Townsville residents and this milestone represents a positive move forward for our City and our community.

I look forward to the Open Day in February and an exciting year ahead.” State Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said that Townsville residents would soon be able to experience the Queensland Country Bank Stadium, built by North Queenslanders, for North Queenslanders.

“More than 480 local businesses have been engaged in the supply chain on the construction of this stadium, that’s injected over $163 million to the local economy. “It’s not long now before the locals who have worked on the stadium will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour and cheer on the mighty Cowboys at their new home.

“On game day Pandanus Catering are targeting a total of 800 match day hospitality staff, and it’s fantastic to see that they are seeking a 100 per cent local workforce. State Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke said that Townsville was set to become the major events capital of Queensland in February and March 2020.

“From when its doors are first opened to the public with the Stadium Open Day in February 2020, this Stadium is going to help revitalise our local CBD. “Whether it’s the legendary Elton John on February 29 or the Cowboys first home game on March 13, these major events will bring visitors from all over whose tourism dollars will be a huge shot-in-the-arm for local businesses.

“Use of the stadium won’t just be limited to major events, we expect to see the broadest range of large and small sporting, community and cultural events being hosted at the venue,” she said. “Some of our local artists will be displaying some of their fantastic artwork from February next year as part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Project: People, Culture & Country project.”

Townsville City Mayor Jenny Hill said that work continued on the complementary Townsville Waterfront Promenade project co-funded by Townsville City Council and the State Government. “We’re transforming the area along Ross Creek so that people can easily move in and out of the stadium precinct and enjoy all that Townsville has to offer and we are excited to unveil these spaces in the months ahead,”

Ms Hill said. Watpac CEO Jean-Pol Bouharmont, took the opportunity to celebrate the company’s workforce achievements. “Watpac set ambitious goals of employing a workforce where at least 6.6% people identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and more than 80% of construction hours were spent by locals, and both goals have been surpassed,”

Mr Bourharmont said. “85.8% of people inducted on site have been local, 11.9% identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and 84.7% of construction hours were completed by locals,” he said. North Queensland Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel was excited to see the building transitioning into use. “All 25,000 seats are in the final stages of installation and we will need all of them when our boys run out onto the field in March,”

Mr Reibel said. “I’m excited to get the team down here soon to inspect the player’s facilities and see what the 2020 season will hold for us at our new homeground,” he said. North Queensland Stadium is a joint project of the Queensland Government, Australian Government and Townsville City Council, and is supported by both the National Rugby League and the North Queensland Cowboys.

The stadium forms part of the Townsville City Deal signed in December 2016.

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