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NSW Government reaffirms plans to back major stadia

NSW Government reaffirms plans to back major stadia
July 15, 2014

The NSW Government has reaffirmed plans, first announced in November 2012, to move away from funding suburban sports grounds used by NRL clubs and to direct monies towards three major stadia in Sydney.

NSW Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres was quoted by News Corp on the weekend as saying the NSW Government would no longer fund improvements to suburban grounds in the future. Reaffirming the NSW Government's 2012 Stadia Strategy, Minister Ayres suggested that funds would be directed to upgrading the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Football Stadium/Allianz Stadium, ANZ Stadium and a new regional stadium in Sydney's West.

Minister Ayres said the NSW Government would no longer invest in traditional NRL venues, suggesting that Sydney's nine NRL clubs can only survive in such a cramped market by generating more revenue from higher memberships and use of the bigger venues.

He was quoted by Sydney newspaper The Sunday Telegraph as stating "if you’re an NRL club driving towards 20,000 to 25,000 members, the suburban ground will not service your membership and won’t have enough seats to sell to other customers as well.”

Reiterating that traditional grounds such as Leichhardt Oval, Shark Park, Brookvale Oval (pictured above) and WIN Jubilee/Kogarah Oval would be left to stage occasional games or redeveloped as training and multi-purpose venues, similar to Redfern Oval and Belmore Sports Ground, Minister Ayres added "(these venues are) special and important to the community, but (their) role as a facility to play national sport in (will be) imited to maybe one or two events a year.

“I don’t see it as part of our core strategy in NSW. It offers some nostalgia but not as a financially viable sports base."

Comparing Sydney's stadia to those of other major cities, Minister Ayres continued "the biggest impact on Sydney crowds is the poor state of facilities and the accessibility of these facilities.

“People have been turning away from small suburban grounds ... because they don’t offer the experience you get at home watching Channel Nine or Foxtel.

“So they don’t go as frequently as they would if they were offered a better product. If we offer good quality facilities they will turn up.

“My long-term view ... is that we have to make the transition from suburban grounds to major stadium facilities.

“Sport in NSW will not compete ­nationally or internationally if we restrict ourselves to suburban facilities.”

NSW's Stadia Strategy was undermined by both the Coalition and Labor pledging redevelopment funds to Brookvale Oval during the 2013 Federal election.

Given that Prime Minister Tony Abbott mentioned his intentions to back a multi-million dollar upgrade for Brookvale Oval as recently as last Friday while attending the NRL match between the Sea Eagles and Wests Tigers, Minister Ayres' comments appear to designed to shift the NSW Government away from pressure to match the Federal Government's potential funding.

Meanwhile, with the NSW Government again committing to a mid-sized stadium at a non-specified site in western Sydney, groups backing different sites - in Penrith and at the Blacktown International Sportspark - are anticipating the advancement of their projects.

Parramatta Stadium, which is set for a minor redevelopment in the near future with $29 million of Federal and NSW Government money increasing capacity by 4,000 seats, may also get a further upgrade.



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