Community Launches Campaign to Regain Stafford Bowls Club

Concerned locals are planning to regain community ownership and use of the Stafford Bowls Club after its lease was transferred, allegedly without proper consultation, to the Brisbane Racing Club. 

On Facebook, about 70 locals formed the “Stafford Community Hub not Race Club” to work on cancelling the lease granted to the commercial racing club. The group also created an online petition for the same purpose. 

Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) apparently plans to refurbish Stafford Bowls Club with a new dining area, a cafe, a sports bar, and a gaming room with 80 pokies. The design and details have yet to be released.

But Anna, one of the more active members of the group, said that the Stafford and Kedron communities do not want the bowls club to become a commercial entity, citing that the locals would greatly benefit from a hub similar to Grange or the revitalised Moorooka Bowls Club. 

The Stafford Bowls Club has been closed since 2016 and residents have waited for the site’s redevelopment into a family-friendly hub. Crushers Leagues Club lodged a development application for this redevelopment and even secured a 20-year lease extension in 2019. 

Stafford Bowls Club
Photo Credit: Anna Campbell/Stafford Community Hub Not Race Club/Facebook

However, Crushers Leagues Club could not proceed with the lease due to its licensing issues. Thus, Council apparently decided to turn over the lease to BRC “without debate, and without community support or input,” the petition stated. 

“The community was not privy to the decision, nor consulted on what they would like or need for their community.”

As part of their campaign, the Stafford Community Hub not Race Club will gather at Gibson Park on Sunday, the 18th of December 2022 at 10:30 a.m., to discuss their visions for the community. A fundraiser has also been opened to help with the campaign. 

Brisbane Racing Club Leases, Revitalises Former Stafford Bowls Club Site

Brisbane Racing Club is now leasing the former Stafford Bowls Club site which has been disused since 2016 and now plans to revitalise it into a $7.5-million community hub.

Brisbane City Council has approved the transfer of the lease of the facility at 352 Stafford Road from Crushers Leagues Club to Brisbane Racing Club (BRC).

As part of the deal, BRC proposes to refurbish the premises at a cost of $7.5 million. The upgrades are estimated to be completed before April 2023.

BRC also estimates that restarting operations at the facility will create about 60 new employment opportunities and will provide a revitalised community hub for locals, and the social and sporting club members.

Brisbane Racing Club will also honour the community contributions stated in the lease, providing financial and in-kind support for activities initiated by GibsonPark Committee Inc which manages and improves the facilities at Gibson Park. That would mean BRC will contribute a minimum of $200,00 per year to the local community.

In 2019, Council approved plans by Crusher Leagues Club trading as Brothers Grange Sports and Community Club Council to renovate and extend the facilities at the site. Subsequently, a new 20-year lease to Crushers League Club was also approved by the Council.

Crushers, however, submitted a request on 5 August 2022 to assign the lease to BRC due to Crushers’ being unable to resolve the transfer of previously held licenses to the Stafford premises. The Club’s gambling licence application is still awaiting approval whilst the liquor licence was only approved last year. 

The deal, however, drew criticisms with some councillors expressing concerns over the lack of transparency, lack of community consultation, and that the expression of interest and tendering process was not followed.