The areas surrounding the Stadium precinct were amongst the earliest parts of Brisbane to be settled by Europeans. Areas adjacent to the site and the new supporting infrastructure contain several buildings and sites of cultural significance including the Christ Church, BCC Memorial Cemetery, Baroona Road School and the site of the former Brisbane Gaol. Prior to European settlement, the site was a swampy low-lying drainage area consisting of numerous creeks and waterways.
The Stadium site was part of the North Brisbane Burial Grounds and was the principal place of burial of Brisbane residents up to 1875. Following concerns regarding health issues, the cemetery was officially closed that same year to accommodate the city's expansion to the west.
The maintenance of the various denominational areas was the responsibility of the different religious trustees, some of whom constructed chapels on their respective plots. One of these chapels was the original Christ Church for the local Anglican community constructed in a gothic manner in 1876. The church was subsequently destroyed by a severe storm in 1890. The current Christ Church, developed in 1891 and designed by diocesan architect John Hingeston Buckeridge, and the adjacent Memorial Cemetery, are the only remaining visible evidence of the original cemetery.
Brisbane grew rapidly during the 1880s resulting in the expansion of the city to the west beyond Hale Street. The infrastructure required to support the expanding city was developed, including the progression of the railway, and as a result the cemetery was subdivided and graves were gradually moved to Toowong Cemetery.
To facilitate the expansion of the city to the west, the development of the western suburbs' roads and supporting infrastructure began to be developed across the cemetery site. Rubble from the excavations needed to develop Roma Street and Central Station railway excavations were used to fill parts of the low lying site and form the base of Caxton Street to the north of the Stadium.
By the end of the 19th century, the suburbs surrounding the Stadium were developed and heavily populated. The working class cottages, synonymous with the area, were established typically on 12 perch (300m²) allotments which gave the area its unique 'texture' and urban character. The high density of population and lack of open space led the local council (then Ithaca Council) to petition the government for three acres of the cemetery for use as recreational fields. In 1891, this area was designed as a recreation reserve and was soon fenced off and used for football and cricket.
Increased public pressure to use the area for recreational purposes resulted in Ithaca Council persuading the government of the day to re-use the dilapidated cemeteries. As a consequence the Paddington Cemeteries Act (1911) was introduced and the site was redeveloped for recreational purposes.
Advertisements following the Act resulted in the relocation of 99 remains and 128 memorials to Toowong and other cemeteries. By mid 1914, most of the remaining headstones were removed to the Memorial Cemetery and subsequently the Toowong and Lutwyche Cemeteries.
The site was then used as a rubbish tip before becoming an established parkland, the John Brown Oval, named after a City Council Alderman. It was used for cycling, athletics and soccer.
The 6.2 hectare site was then fenced off and declared a public recreation reserve and called Lang Park in memory of Reverend John Dunmore Lang, an influential figure in early Brisbane who established the cemetery in 1840. Lang Park evolved into a sporting precinct with tennis courts and an oval for amateur athletics and football.
In 1954, as a result of lobbying by Central Queensland Rugby League official Frank Burke, the Brisbane City Council granted a 21 year lease of the site to Queensland Rugby League (QRL) with the Queensland Amateur Athletics Association (QAAA) a sublessor. In 1957, Lang Park became the headquarters for the QRL making Lang Park the first major Australian stadium driven by the rugby league establishment.
The QRL began a process of improvements to the grounds which eventually resulted in the grounds being no longer open to the public. In 1962, under an Act of Parliament, the Lang Park Trust was established. The Trust's charter was to administer the activities at Lang Park.
Further improvements to the grounds have been undertaken since the creation of the Trust including the construction of the Frank Burke Stand in 1962, Ron McAuliffe Stand in the early 1970s and the Western Grandstand in 1994.
The grounds today have had a special place in the hearts of Queenslanders as one of the sporting cathedrals of the state and city. Suncorp Stadium is a world class stadium of which all Queenslanders can be proud.