THE BRISBANE Lions are coming to Ipswich with a $60 million plus elite training and administration facility to be built by 2016.
Yesterday's announcement of the facility, to be built on land adjacent to Springfield Central railway station, was the most momentous in Ipswich sporting history and will see the Lions' administration and football department based in the city.
The first stage of the ETAF development will cost $60 million and includes an MCG-sized AFL oval, lighting suitable to host NAB Cup and NEAFL matches, administration headquarters and a gymnasium featuring aquatic recovery, medical, coaching and player development areas.
The facility will also be home to the Lions Academy.
The Federal Government has kicked in $15 million towards the project and the rest of the funds will be provided by Springfield Land Corporation, Ipswich City Council, the Lions and the AFL.
The Lions will be entering a 99-year lease on the land with the Ipswich City Council on a peppercorn rent.
The second stage of the project will include a grandstand for up to 2500 spectators, covered training space and additional ovals, training areas and community sporting fields.
The Lions will play their AFL games out of the Gabba, but the seating capacity at the main oval can be reconfigured to cater for thousands more spectators.
Lions chairman Angus Johnson said "the administrative side of the club and the players and football department will be based here in Springfield".
"We expect to start civil works in 2014 and we expect the completion of the entire project in 2016," he said.
"We are talking about a world class piece of community infrastructure. It will be cutting edge.
"We've had our football department staff in Europe and the United States looking at facilities including AC Milan and some of the major NFL clubs.
"This is one of the most significant days, not only for the Brisbane Lions, but also for Australian Rules football since we have been playing the game in Queensland, which is well over 100 years.
"This is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia… so there are massive opportunities for the Lions and enormous opportunities for the code. We draw players from throughout Australia through the national draft, but given the growth profile of this area I have absolutely no doubt that in the future we will be seeing people based from here on our list and playing for the Brisbane Lions."
Club co-captain Jed Adcock said he was "really excited to move out here to Springfield to what is a world class facility and to be part of a great community".
"The club has been in the grandstand of the 'Gabba for a number of years now and it is time for a freshen up," he says.
"We've seen the development plans and it looks amazing. You will find players will start moving out in this direction. In Melbourne players can be stuck in traffic for an hour, but it will only take us 25 minutes to get here. It will be quick and easy."