The new community-centred home of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, The Hutchinson Builders Centre, was officially opened today, marking over two years of planning and construction for a facility steeped in a proud history of grit, resilience and service.
Built on a 17,000m² site beside Queensland Country Bank Stadium, the $40-million gleaming new jewel in the Cowboys crown is a testament to the collaboration between the club and all levels of government to create a state-of-the-art community, training and high-performance centre for North Queensland.
Delivered by managing contractor Hutchinson Builders and architects Populous, in conjunction with Tippett Schrock Architects, the Townsville landmark is a contemporary, multi-purpose building spread across three levels and features an indoor field, wet recovery area, team auditorium, broadcast studio and prime top-floor commercial space.
“Embarking on our first research tours of other professional high-performance facilities was definitely a ‘dare to dream’ moment for us, and we knew we had to seize the opportunity to take the Cowboys to the next level in our evolution as an elite sporting organisation,” Cowboys Chairman Lewis Ramsay said.
“We also saw the economic potential for our region and, driven by our commitment as a community-owned club, we set about creating a space that would generate local employment, develop local athletic talent, attract new revenues from visiting elite sporting teams and establish a shared community space within the new stadium precinct.
"This is a magnificent venue and a tribute to everyone involved with the club in the last quarter-century.
“We are here today because of them and the significant support of our major project stakeholders, including the Federal Government, Queensland Government, Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund and Townsville City Council, whose vision and commitment matched our passion and drive.”
A facility for northern communities
Funding from the Federal Government in the form of a $15 million grant, announced in March 2019, was a crucial first step in securing the target to deliver the building, reflecting a strong belief in the Centre’s future economic contribution to the community and region.
“I’m delighted to help celebrate the opening of the Community, Training and High-Performance Centre, which will be home for the Cowboys, and used by other local sports teams, and by teams all over Australia who need to train for tropical conditions,” The Hon Keith Pitt MP, Minister for Resources, Water & Northern Australia said.
“Sport is an important part of Australian culture and is a crucial contributor to our communities, particularly in regional Australia.
"This new centre will be an important facility for communities across North Queensland."
Centre creating local jobs
The announcement by the Queensland Government of a $5 million grant in June 2020 came at a critical time in the midst of the pandemic, when the club was navigating the impact of crowd lockouts and COVID protocols.
Resources Minister and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said investments in projects like the Hutchinson Builders Centre were important in creating jobs, particularly during the economic recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“A total of 213 jobs were created during the construction period with more than $71 million of work generated for local businesses, helping them get through the COVID-19 crisis,” Minister Stewart said.
“Work continued on this important project throughout the pandemic, with 83 per cent of sub-contractors being local subbies and the build taking just 49 weeks.
“There will be a further 58 full-time jobs supported at the Centre from 2022, with plans also for specialist high-performance undergraduate learning and research collaborations with James Cook University.
"Investing in infrastructure like this not only create jobs but makes Townsville a more exciting city."
An investment in Townsville
The project received a vital boost with a $20 million loan from NAIF confirmed in August 2020.
NAIF CEO Chris Wade said: “NAIF was a key early supporter of the Cowboys’ community centre and we are delighted to have helped the team turn their vision into reality."
"The centre will bring a range of economic and social benefits to Townsville and is an example of the positive impact that NAIF can bring by working with other investors and key partners."
Bringing an economic boost to Townsville, NAIF has supported to date five infrastructure projects in the city worth more than $230m which together will create or support more than 1,300 jobs.
Revitalising the inner city
The Hutchinson Builders Centre is located within the Townsville City Waterfront Priority Development Area adjoining the Townsville Central Business District, with the Cowboys signing a long-term development lease with Townsville City Council for the building site and a user agreement for the adjoining community training field.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the opening of The Hutchinson Builders Centre was yet another milestone achieved in Council’s vision for the central business district.
"Townsville City Council is proud to have been a foundation partner in the development of the stadium precinct, including The Hutchinson Builders Centre, in our CBD.
“Our goal was, and continues to be, to revitalise our inner city and support long-term economic activity for the benefit of the community.
“It’s clear that Queensland Country Bank Stadium has revitalised our CBD and provided economic stimulus, and I’m sure we’ll see The Hutchinson Builders Centre further contribute to that going forward,” said Mayor Hill.
The journey continues
The Cowboys relocated from Kirwan to their new home beside Ross Creek on building completion from early February, bringing the memories and experiences of 25 years at their former headquarters and home ground with them.
Tenants Dr John Maguire from Townsville Orthopaedics & Sports Surgery and North Queensland Physiotherapy Centre have opened their new premises on the upper level, to be followed by James Cook University.
Hirers including Football Queensland North are also taking advantage of the cutting-edge facilities.
The Cowboys will begin training on the new community training field in coming weeks, with visitors to be invited to relax at Podium Café, run by the Cowboys Leagues Club, while watching the team in action.