Queensland’s home of racing, Eagle Farm, is back on track for the 2016 Winter Carnival after the final funding agreements for the redevelopment of the infield tunnels were finalised on Thursday.
The Queensland Government and the Brisbane Racing Club signed off on a $12 million Treasury loan to fund the building of two tunnels which will complete stage two of the $1.2 billion Master Plan which also includes the construction of a residential, retail and commercial precinct.
The Brisbane Racing Club has been appointed project manager and with the tunnel construction beginning in August, the club expects Eagle Farm to be racing again in March, just in time for the lead up to the Winter Carnival.
Racing Minister Bill Byrne made the announcement at Eagle Farm yesterday and it was what the racing community had been eagerly waiting for after racing at ‘Headquarters’ had been on hold for the last twelve months because of the long, drawn out financing process of the project.
“The Government has approved for a commercial Treasury loan of $12 million to be delivered to Brisbane Racing Club in order to install the tunnels and infield works at Eagle Farm,” Byrne announced.
“The construction of phase two of the development at Eagle Farm will create more than 300 jobs and this work is now expected to commence in the coming weeks.”
“The Queensland Government has now delivered almost $22 million on the development of Eagle Farm and we are working closely with Racing Queensland and Brisbane Racing Club to ensure the project is delivered.”
Racing at Eagle Farm ceased at the conclusion of the 2014 Winter Carnival and the original plan was for the reconstruction of the track would be completed for this year’s Winter Carnival.
But the project failed to get off the ground on time which forced the Brisbane Racing Club to reschedule the entire 2015 Winter Carnival, including their flagship race, the Group 1 $2m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap which was run at Doomben with the distance being reduced from 1400m to 1350m with Melbourne mare Srikandi recording an historic win.
The rest of the Carnival was split between Doomben, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast but BRC Chairman Neville Bell is looking forward to Eagle Farm hosting the Stradbroke Handicap again.
“The tunnel construction will begin in August. If the weather is kind, we hope to be racing at Eagle Farm by March 2016,” Bell said.
“This would give the track enough time to be in excellent shape for our Brisbane Racing Carnival.”