Outgoing Rugby Australia boss Bill Pulver has urged the ACT government to invest in a $350 million stadium in Civic, warning failure to do so could impact Canberra's involvement in a 2027 World Cup bid.
Pulver put heat on the government on Friday after announcing a bid to host the World Cup in 10 years, saying it's time for officials to make a "bold and inspired" commitment to a a state of the art venue with a roof.
But the ACT government is closely monitoring the public backlash against the NSW government after it decided to invest $2 billion to knock down and rebuild three stadiums in Sydney.
The government is also waiting for the Australian Sports Commission to decide if it will sell Canberra Stadium and the AIS before pushing ahead with any plans to reinvigorate its venue landscape.
The commission could opt to sell the site of Canberra Stadium, the AIS pool and the surrounding area to the government, which could kickstart a major overhaul in the capital.
But RA's vision of hosting the World Cup for the first time in 24 years could force the government's hand and fast-track plans to build a stadium on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin.
"Basically Canberra risks slipping behind everywhere else," Pulver told Fairfax Media.
"State governments around Australia have put together investments that are making sure their stadia are world class, and I think NSW have done that in a wonderful way.
"The ACT has always been one of the key homes for rugby. But I just think they need to look at the prospect of an indoor stadium.
"All rectangular sports and their fans would benefit from that. The government needs to make a bold and inspired choice to build the stadium."
The Wallabies returned to Canberra for the first time in seven years when they played Argentina in September, but the capital has been left off Australia's international schedule for 2018.
Wallabies lock Adam Coleman at Canberra Stadium. Photo: AAP
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr says he wants a new stadium built by the mid 2020s, but is also weighing up several options for redeveloping Canberra Stadium or a completely new design in Civic.
The orientation and type of playing surface - synthetic or real grass - has been a stumbling block for the ACT Brumbies and the Canberra Raiders, who are desperate for a new stadium for their fans.
Canberra Stadium is one of the oldest venues still used in Australian professional sport and is in desperate need of major renovations to improve spectator experience.
However, it hosted rugby union World Cup games in 2003 and was also part of the Asian Cup in 2015 and the rugby league World Cup earlier this year.
"Should Australia bid to host any future tournaments of this nature, we would be happy to sit down with the organising bodies to discuss Canberra being involved," said a spokesperson for Barr.
"However, these conversations are years in advance and it would be far too premature to determine how these tournaments would impact on stadium infrastructure in Canberra.
"The public response in NSW to the proposed stadium developments highlights the divisive nature of such investments and the need for very careful consideration by governments on investments of this scale."
But Pulver, who will finish his RA chief executive tenure next week, said decisions on a new stadium were needed now.
There have been plans for a new stadium for the past five years, but the Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos clean up and light rail project have delayed any progression.
"Infrastructure investment lasts a long period of time and brings a lot of enjoyment to the community. In my view, it's a noisy minority opposed to the stadia in Sydney," Pulver said.
"If you don't have a good stadia environment to get people there, you're just going to miss opportunities in your market.
"I applaud the state government's putting these investments in. It will give them a point of difference. Watching footy in Canberra in July and August is hard because it's so cold. It could transform Canberra."